Rarely have I been so disappointed in a historian that I held in high regard as by Jeremy Black’s Slavery. A New Global History. There are probably very few untruths in this book, but there is a glaring imbalance.
There are markets and goods, there is military technology and repression. Slavery was more harsh in the Carolinas than in the
Also the agency of the slaves in ending slavery is dismissed in a few sentences as ‘evidence ... is limited’. But since this is a major theory in the study of slavery, you might expect a serious discussion. As would be warranted by the rest of half century of research and debate on slavery that Black mostly ignores.
The imbalance is especially striking when the book is full of not that relevant detail on imperial and colonial history, and on the abolition debate in
and its role in the following decades. To the point where becomes
self-congratulatory. Great Britain
Alright, there are some redeeming features. This book has a more global perspective than most, looking beyond the early modern Caribbean. What it basically underwrites is that slavery was part and parcel of most societies up to the 19th century and its sudden retreat in that century is something worth noting.
But essentially this is a White Englishman’s History of Slavers that might have been written in the 1960s. Black should have known his limits and stuck to military history.