Avengers of the New World
The first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas began in 1791 when thousands of brutally exploited slaves rose up against their masters on Saint-Domingue, the most profitable colony in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Within a few years, the slave insurgents forced the French administrators of the colony to…
Why read it?
5 authors picked Avengers of the New World as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
The Haitian Revolution was long left out of the history of Atlantic revolutions, dismissed as a violent uprising of enslaved people without an ideological dimension.
Dubois’s book walks readers through the twists and turns of this decade-long revolution, highlighting the intellectual agency of enslaved and freed people and the ideological consequences of this transformative event.
The Haitian Revolution is a notoriously complicated event, but I found that this book provided coherence and a compelling analysis of the effects of this crucial moment in the history of democracy and movement for human rights. And it was a gripping read at that.
This is the best written and most easily comprehensive narrative of the Haitian Revolution. Providing helpful historical context, poignant biographical sketches, and affecting anecdotes, the book simplifies the extraordinarily complicated story of the largest and most successful slave revolt in world history. While other accounts of the Haitian Revolution are more acclaimed, none are more enlightening than this one, especially for the general reader.
Over the past few decades, scholarship on the Haitian Revolution in the Western academy has developed in leaps and bounds after decades of relative neglect and marginalisation and the ‘silencing’ of the revolution identified by Michel Rolph Trouillot. One of the very best works in recent years on the Haitian Revolution is Avengers of the New World by Laurent Dubois, which brings together recent archival research with a beautifully written narrative that is both accessible and highly informative. Dubois has also written more widely on Haiti’s history, and also wrote a fine foreword when C.L.R. James’s 1934 play, Toussaint Louverture:…
Dubois is both a great scholar and a wonderful storyteller. His Avengers brings alive the complicated and fraught history of the Haitian revolutionaries who brought an end to the French colony known as Saint-Domingue. I remember thinking that this was a courageous book when it came out and I still think it is. Rather than providing an unambiguously hagiographic assessment of the revolution’s most famous revolutionary and military leader – Toussaint Louverture – Dubois chronicles the shifting alliances and seeming incongruities of the era and its historical figures. One of the great things about this book is that it allows…
This history is the best and most up-to-date narrative account of the Haitian Revolution, its causes, and its consequences, available in English. The fact that Dubois trained as a fiction writer with Russell Banks makes the book unusually reader-friendly. Though it is much shorter, I would not hesitate to compare it to Shelby Foote’s magisterial three-volume Civil War narrative.
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