Why this book?
Greg Grandin integrates the history of a slave rebellion in the vessel Tryal sailing from Valparaiso (Chile) to Lima (Peru) to the large narrative of how capitalism fueled slavery in the early nineteenth century. As the captives passed through the Rio de la Plata region on their way from Africa to Chile, Grandin weaves the history of the southern cone of South America in this story of deception. Herman Melville’s novel Benito Cereno (1855) popularized this slave rebellion, which allows Grandin to establish connections between the North and South Atlantic. Intriguingly, Grandin found another story of a shipboard slave rebellion on the vessel San Juan Nepomuceno, where captives made it back from Montevideo to Africa, which perhaps constitutes the most successful shipboard slave rebellion in the history of this horrific traffic.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren't. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence. Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event-an event that…