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Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution Paperback – Nov 30 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (Nov. 30 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674018265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674018266
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 23 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #198,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman on April 5 2004
Format: Hardcover
Although this book excuses and uses moral relativism to explain the violence of the rebellion it nevertheless succeeds in explaining and documenting the slave revolt of 1871 against the French the subsequent victory, the first of its kind by slaves, against the Europeans. Decidedly American in nature, although the author argues it was inspired by the French revolution, the Haitian revolt against both Spain and against England and Spain helped create the second independent republic in the Americas. Toussaint, the leader, became a folk hero and the consequences reverberated all across the Americas, as images of slaves putting their masters to death were scene in the daily papers. Of course the most important political implications is that the Haitian rebellion ended Napoleonic hopes for an expanding empire in the Americas.
This is an important analysis and account of the Haitian rebellion, interesting in light of the recent problems in Haiti, which has unfortunately become the poorest country in the Americas, in direct opposition to its American neighbor who gained independence a mere dozen years prior.
Seth J. Frantzman
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Amazon.com: 23 reviews
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
The Right Book for Such an Important Historical Event May 17 2005
By Dennis R. Hidalgo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It was about time that a book like this would appear. In this book Dubois masterfully walked a fine line between several traditional approaches to the Haitian Revolution. While avoiding the extremes of old racists' historians that have blamed slaves for bringing chaos to the island of Hispaniola, he also avoids the hero-making excess of CLR James. Dubois also appropriated lots from Carolyn E. Fick's valuable approach of the revolution from below while still on the sobering side of David P. Geggus.

With the exception of James', there is no work on the Haitian Revolution that is more readable and engaging than this book. Dubois' prose is crisp and vivid-the perfect writing for such a colorful story. The book is not short. But each chapter is full with interesting stories that you can hardly notice you are reading a scholarly history book.

However, there are three issues you should be aware of while reading it. Probably due to the large amount of information and the inclusion of many little stories, the reader can easily lose track of the chronology. So, having besides you a chronology of the events can help you follow each one without problems. Also, because of the scholarly practice of the use of evidence, Dubois habit of story-telling, and his efforts to avoid being judgmental, at first impression the reader may feel that the author is siding with evil. But Dubois evaluation is subtle, and yet very powerful and accurate. And finally, a few typos, responsibilities of the publishing house and not of the author, should not affect the reader's enjoyment of a good and important reading.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Fine Narrative; 4.5 Stars Dec 26 2009
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A very well written narrative of the Haitian Revolution. As Dubois points out, this was the only successful slave revolt in human history, with its success brought about by a unique convergence of turmoil in Haiti and the collapse of the French government associated with French Revolution. While Dubois focuses on events in Haiti, he does very in relating the relevant developments in French politics crucial to understanding events in Haiti. Dubois starts by describing the complex situation in Haiti on the eve of the revolution. The most productive colony of the French empire, the population of Haiti was dominated by slaves, most recently or relatively recently arrived from Africa. In addition to the small white planter class, Haiti also contained small by significant populations of free blacks, mixed raced people of color, some of them affluent plantation owners and merchants, and landless whites. In the second half of the 18th century, increasing hardening of social and racial barriers and efforts of the French government to extend control produced significant strains in Haiti. At the same time, the penetration of Enlightenment ideas of rights provided an intellectual framework for alternative ways to organize society. The collapse of the French government and the French Revolution with its attachment to relatively radical ideas of human rights and equality produced an opportunity for groups within Haiti to take control of the colony. White plantars struggled to impose their own oligarchy on the island, free people of color struggled to achieve social and political equality, and the slaves would seize the opportunity to overturn any form of the existing order. Dubois nicely lays out the complex events in Haiti, the interaction with the developments in France, and the important roles of international rivalries in the Caribbean. The end result would be a Haiti dominated by a native controlled military led by blacks and men of color. The most of important of these figures being the remarkable Toussaint, who became the preeminent figure in Haiti. The success of the revolution, however, resulted in further complex and ironic developments.

The prosperity of Haiti was dependent on continuation of the plantation regime. Toussaint and other inheritors of power in Haiti attempted to reconstruct the plantation economy, to a great extent by using coercive labor laws. Like the white planters he overthrew, Toussaint also wished to maintain a very wide scope of autonomy for Haiti, allowing open trade with Britain and the USA, and maintaining native control of the colony. This resulted in conflict with Napoleon's government, resulting in a French attempt to reconquer the colony and reimpose slavery. Greatly assisted by tropical diseases, the Haitian insurgents were able to beat back the French effort and become an independent nation. Again, Dubois does very well in narrating this complex and often brutal story.

Dubois also does well in describing some of the consequences of the Haitian revolution. Its effects in US history were great. The failure of the Napoleonic effort at reconquest resulted in the Louisiana purchase. The Haitian revolution also had a great effect on Southern slaveholders, greatly increasing their insecurity and generating the anxiety that often led to over-reactions to American abolitionism. A bit more analysis of the background and context of the Haitian Revolution, however, would have improved this book. The efforts of the pre-Revolution French government to extend control over Haiti was typical of efforts was a pan-European phenomenon. Similarly, the increasing social stratification of Haitian society, occurring at the same time as Enlightenment ideals of reason, rights, and equality were spreading, was also typical of metropolitan France. Where does Haiti fit into some of the other revolts against authority that occurred across the Atlantic world in roughly this time frame?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Review of the Kindle edition Feb. 5 2012
By Bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Solid scholarship, but don't buy the Kindle Edition. It is a disaster. Several maps are missing. The first page of each chapter is reproduced as a graphic--and a very poor low resolution one at that. Endnotes are not hyper-linked, and there are no page numbers. This is one of those rare occassions when if you prefer ebooks to paper that you would be much better off acquiring the Google ebook. While it doesn't have hyperlinked notes, it does at least contain high resolution graphics and excellent reproduction of some of the maps missing from the Kindle edition.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An excellent read May 22 2009
By John L. Hennessey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book definitely deserves the prestigious prize it won. It masterfully blends detailed research with a superb writing style that made it a pleasure to read. I would recommend it both to someone who wanted to learn about the Haitian Revolution for the first time and to experts who wanted to compare different historiographical interpretations.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great: Detailed, but goes down easy March 18 2006
By Eric - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was a true pleasure to read. DuBois is the kind of historian who deserves to be teaching high school students (I mean this as a compliment) because while makes sure to include all relevant details about the Haitain revolution, he makes this book read like a fascinating story. This is a wonderful and well developed book, suitable for both laymen and scholars.

I am pleased that DuBois kept his editorializing to a minimum and described the events of the Haitian revolution in a very much nuanced manner. I recommend this this book to anyone looking for a detailed, but surprisingly easy to read discussion of that famous "first successful slave rebellion."

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