The Black Jacobins

By C.L.R. James,

Book cover of The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution

Book description

In 1791, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, the slaves of San Domingo rose in revolt. Despite invasion by a series of British, Spanish and Napoleonic armies, their twelve-year struggle led to the creation of Haiti, the first independent black republic outside Africa. Only three years later, the…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Black Jacobins as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I finally did myself the favour of reading The Black Jacobins. This landmark work tells the neglected, remarkable story of the Haitian Revolution of 1791, the most successful slave revolt in history.

Perhaps a book can have no greater compliment than the fact that, as a reader, I now devoutly wish that I had read it many years ago.

Authoritative and beautifully written, it is an essential corrective to the nefarious efforts by many outsiders over the century following the revolution to suppress the tale of a black republic triumphing over European enemies. This is a captivating story of a…

This work was the first work I read about the Haitian Revolution as a student, and though published in 1938, The Black Jacobins is a classic of historical literature which still remains the best starting place for understanding Toussaint Louverture as a revolutionary leader and his place in history. Born in Trinidad, a Caribbean island with a legacy of slavery and so not entirely unlike Haiti itself, James as a black anti-colonialist became inspired by the Russian Revolution which represented a massive challenge to racism and imperialism. 

The Marxist theory of permanent revolution, outlined in Leon Trotsky’s own History of…

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