10 books like Black Spartacus

By Sudhir Hazareesingh,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Black Spartacus. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Avengers of the New World

By Laurent Dubois,

Book cover of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

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.

Avengers of the New World

By Laurent Dubois,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Avengers of the New World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 emancipate them, a decision ratified by revolutionary Paris in 1794. This victory was a stunning challenge to the order of master/slave relations throughout the Americas, including the southern United States, reinforcing the most fervent hopes of slaves and the worst fears of masters.

But, peace eluded Saint-Domingue as British and…


The Common Wind

By Julius S. Scott,

Book cover of The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution

Taking as its title a line from the sonnet William Wordsworth wrote in 1802 in honour of the then imprisoned Toussaint Louverture, Julius S Scott’s work – like that of Carolyn Fick – gives us a powerful sense of just how revolutionary the Haitian Revolution was. Focusing on how sailors, runaway slaves, soldiers, and others spread revolutionary ideas of the Radical Enlightenment across the Caribbean during the 1790s, Scott gives us another brilliant ‘history from below’, full of inspiring examples of internationalism. Leaders of other slave revolts across the Caribbean took on names like ‘Toussaint’, while even the English radical Thomas Paine came to inspire Francophone blacks in this period – such as the imprisoned ‘John Paine’ detained by British authorities in colonial Jamaica in 1793.

The Common Wind

By Julius S. Scott,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Common Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Common Wind is a gripping and colorful account of the intercontinental networks that tied together the free and enslaved masses of the New World. Having delved deep into the gray obscurity of official eighteenth-century records in Spanish, English, and French, Julius S. Scott has written a powerful "history from below." Scott follows the spread of "rumors of emancipation" and the people behind them, bringing to life the protagonists in the slave revolution.
By tracking the colliding worlds of buccaneers, military deserters, and maroon communards from Venezuela to Virginia, Scott records the transmission of contagious mutinies and insurrections in unparalleled…


The Black Jacobins

By C.L.R. James,

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

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 the Russian Revolution, helped James understand how the Haitian Revolution and the French Revolution were intrinsically intertwined throughout, and so how Jacobinism could inspire Toussaint, just as James himself had been inspired by Bolshevism. The Black Jacobins is a brilliant model of revolutionary history at its best, panoramic in…

The Black Jacobins

By C.L.R. James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Black Jacobins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 British and Americans ended the Atlantic slave trade.

In this outstanding example of vivid, committed and empathetic historical analysis, C. L. R. James illuminates these epoch-making events. He explores the appalling economic realities of the Caribbean economy, the roots of the world's only successful slave revolt and the utterly extraordinary…


The Making of Haiti

By Carolyn E. Fick,

Book cover of The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below

Carolyn Fick was a doctoral student of C.L.R. James and George Rudé during the 1970s in Montreal, Canada, and in keeping with the turn of social history towards ‘history from below’ in that decade, produced a pioneering study in 1990 of the wider contested forms of revolutionary leadership beyond Toussaint Louverture during the Haitian Revolution, particularly in the South of what was then French colonial Saint Domingue. Carolyn remains a leading historian of the Haitian Revolution, and her work helps us better understand the class dynamics of the revolutionary process as it unfolded, and the tragedy of Toussaint as he developed into a representative of a new land-owning ruling class in Saint Domingue, even as he continued to strike powerful blows at European slave-owning colonial powers.  

The Making of Haiti

By Carolyn E. Fick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of Haiti as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1789 the French colony of Saint Domingue was the wealthiest and most flourishing of the Caribbean slave colonies, its economy based on the forced labor of more than half a million black slaves raided from their African homelands. The revolt of this underclass in 1791-the only successful slave rebellion in history-gained the slaves their freedom and set in motion the colony's struggle for independence as the black republic of Haiti.

In this pioneering study, Carolyn E. Fick argues that the repressed and uneducated slaves were the principal architects both of their own freedom and of the successful movement toward…


Toussaint L'Ouverture

By John Beard,

Book cover of Toussaint L'Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography

This is the definitive biography on Toussaint. First published in 1863, it clearly showed me why Toussaint L’Ouverture was one of the most admired world leaders of his time. They called him “the Black Napoleon!” Reading this book brought back to mind that I did a report on Haiti and Toussaint back when I was in junior high (“a long time ago in a universe far, far away!") Even at the time I was impressed by how much the Haitian Revolution influenced our own Civil War.  

Toussaint L'Ouverture

By John Beard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toussaint L'Ouverture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a reproduction of a classic text optimised for kindle devices. We have endeavoured to create this version as close to the original artefact as possible. Although occasionally there may be certain imperfections with these old texts, we believe they deserve to be made available for future generations to enjoy.


All Souls' Rising

By Madison Smartt Bell,

Book cover of All Souls' Rising: A Novel of Haiti

As I prepared to write my own novel on Haiti, I searched for a novel of merit already written as part of my preparation. I found this work of Madison Smartt Bell, which was nominated for the National Book Award. This author proved to be a master of the language. I admired his ability to bring Toussaint alive, as well as picturing the culture of the time, and the complexities of a war that changed history.  

All Souls' Rising

By Madison Smartt Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Souls' Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A serious historical novel that reads like a dream." --The Washington Post Book World

"One of the most spohisticated fictional treatments of the enduring themes of class, color, and freedom." --San Francisco Chronicle

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FINALIST 

This first installment of the epic Haitian trilogy brings to life a decisive moment in the history of race, class, and colonialism. The slave uprising in Haiti was a momentous contribution to the tide of revolution that swept over the Western world at the end of the 1700s. A brutal rebellion that strove to overturn a vicious system of slavery,…


In the Time of the Butterflies

By Julia Alvarez,

Book cover of In the Time of the Butterflies

A novel based on the real-life story of the three Mirabal sisters, known as las mariposas (the butterflies) who became national heroes for their resistance to the dictator Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. The murder of these three courageous women by Trujillo’s henchmen helped to catalyze his downfall after more than 30 years of iron-fisted rule. When my publisher sent her an advance copy of my book in 1999, Julia sent me a lovely hand-written note that began more than two decades of friendship. Readers particularly interested in the contemporary relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti will find her non-fiction book, A Wedding in Haiti, well worth a read.

In the Time of the Butterflies

By Julia Alvarez,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Time of the Butterflies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

25th Anniversary Edition

"A magnificent treasure for all cultures and all time.” --St. Petersburg Times
 
It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas--the Butterflies.
In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all…


The Haitians

By Jean Casimir, Laurent Dubois (translator),

Book cover of The Haitians: A Decolonial History

When you think about Columbus arriving in Haiti, Casimir asks, do you imagine yourself on the boat or on the shore? With deep insight, Casimir writes from the perspective of those on the shore, producing a decolonial history that emphasizes how rural Haitians drew on African traditions to resist the brutal system of plantation slavery imposed by French colonists. Further, he shows how patterns of popular resistance persisted during and after the Haitian Revolution, when Haitian elites attempted to revive parts of the plantation system. This is one of the most insightful and compelling books I read this year.

The Haitians

By Jean Casimir, Laurent Dubois (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Haitians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping history, leading Haitian intellectual Jean Casimir argues that the story of Haiti should not begin with the usual image of Saint-Domingue as the richest colony of the eighteenth century. Rather, it begins with a reconstruction of how individuals from Africa, in the midst of the golden age of imperialism, created a sovereign society based on political imagination and a radical rejection of the colonial order, persisting even through the U.S. occupation in 1915.

The Haitians also critically retheorizes the very nature of slavery, colonialism, and sovereignty. Here, Casimir centers the perspectives of Haiti's moun andeyo - the…


The Kingdom of This World

By Alejo Carpentier, Pablo Medina (translator),

Book cover of The Kingdom of This World

The celebrated Cuban author employs the Latin American trope of magical realism in this novel of the Haitian Revolution that created the world’s first Black republic on New Year’s Day 1801. Through the eyes of the slave Ti Noël, readers meet some of the most celebrated figures of Haitian history: the legendary one-armed houngan (Vodou priest) Mackandal, the independence leader Boukman, and the first emperor of the North, Henri-Christophe. As a freedman, Ti Noël becomes disillusioned with the brutality under the new regime, including the conditions endured by workers building the Citadel fortress.

The Kingdom of This World

By Alejo Carpentier, Pablo Medina (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Kingdom of This World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kingdom of this World (57) by Carpentier, Alejo [Paperback (2006)]


Haiti

By Laurent Dubois,

Book cover of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History

I find this book as enlightening as it is useful. In a single volume, Dubois provides a sweeping history of the Haitian Revolution and its legacy. He recounts not only how Haitians rose up against slavery to establish their own independent nation, but how that nation struggled internally to define itself while contending externally with a racist and hostile world order.

Haiti

By Laurent Dubois,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Haiti as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even before the recent earthquake destroyed much of the country, Haiti was known as a benighted place of poverty and corruption. Maligned and misunderstood, the nation has long been blamed by many for its own wretchedness. But as acclaimed historian Laurent Dubois demonstrates, Haiti's troubles owe more to a legacy of international punishment for the original sin of staging the only successful slave revolt in the world. Dubois vividly depicts the isolation and impoverishment that followed the 1804 rebellion: the crushing indemnities imposed by the former French rulers, which initiated a cycle of debt; the multiple interventions by the U.S.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Toussaint Louverture, revolutionaries, and the Haitian Revolution?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Toussaint Louverture, revolutionaries, and the Haitian Revolution.

Toussaint Louverture Explore 6 books about Toussaint Louverture
Revolutionaries Explore 30 books about revolutionaries
The Haitian Revolution Explore 15 books about the Haitian Revolution