In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended the domain of capitalist agriculture, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled continuously to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica (then called Coromantees) organized to throw off that yoke by violence. Their uprising--which became known as Tacky's Revolt--featured a style of fighting increasingly familiar today: scattered militias opposing great powers, with fighters hard to distinguish from noncombatants. It was also part of a more extended borderless conflict that spread from Africa to the Americas and across the island. Even after it was put down, the insurgency rumbled throughout the British Empire at a time when slavery seemed the dependable bedrock of its dominion. That certitude would never be the same, nor would the views of black lives, which came to inspire both more fear and more sympathy than before.
Tracing the roots, routes, and reverberations of this event across disparate parts of the Atlantic world, Vincent Brown offers us a superb geopolitical thriller. Tacky's Revolt expands our understanding of the relationship between European, African, and American history, as it speaks to our understanding of wars of terror today.
"Brilliant...groundbreaking...Brown's profound analysis and revolutionary vision of the Age of Slave War--from the too-often overlooked Tacky's Revolt to the better-known Haitian Revolution--gives us an original view of the birth of modern freedom in the New World."--Cornel West
"Brown's brilliant analysis reveals how slave rebellions across the Americas depended upon experienced combatants captured in African conflicts and then sold to Europeans, refuting the canard that slave traders gathered their victims randomly. While tracing the relationships between African warfare and uprisings in the Americas, Brown offers beautifully written portraits of those who survived the crushing forces of colonial imperialism and fought for freedom. Above all else, this astute and comprehensive book is about agency."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
"Brown derives not only a story of the insurrection, but 'a martial geography of Atlantic slavery, ' vividly demonstrating how warfare shaped every aspect of bondage...Forty years after Tacky's defeat, new arrivals from Africa were still hearing about the daring rebels who upended the island."--Julian Lucas, Harper's
"[A] revealing history...Readers interested in the era will find much of value in this exhaustive portrait of the rebellion's origins and ramifications."--Publishers Weekly
"[A] careful reconstruction of an understudied footnote in Jamaican history."--Alex Colville, The Spectator
"This lively, sophisticated book proves that Vincent Brown is one of the most creative historians writing anywhere in the world today about the African Diaspora. Tacky's Revolt is destined to become a classic work on the long, deep struggle against slavery from below."--Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History
"The men and women who took up arms to fight against their enslavement across Jamaica in 1760 have long needed a historian. In Vincent Brown's Tacky's Revolt they have received their due. Combining precision with attention to the big picture, Brown weaves together stories of alliances, solidarities, and divisions, from St. Mary's parish in the North of Jamaica, to the ships of the Atlantic ocean, to the forests of the Gold Coast. Brown's superb archival work and sensitive historical reconstruction enable us to rethink the participants in the revolt as soldiers engaged in a war; a war against the unending, pervasive everyday violence that was slavery itself."--Diana Paton
"In Tacky's Revolt, Vincent Brown has mapped an innovative history and geography linking power and resistance across Africa, America, and Europe. He demonstrates that slavery was--is--a state of war."--Catherine Hall, author of Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain
"A masterful interpretation of the roots and routes of revolutionary action and of the inevitable response of African-Jamaican men and women to the violence of the racist and brutal British imperial project which rendered slavery a perpetual state of war."--Verene A. Shepherd, author of Livestock, Sugar and Slavery: Contested Terrain in Colonial Jamaica
"The problem of understanding slave revolts is not why they were relatively few compared to the obvious difficulties of slave life, but why they happened at all. Vincent Brown has successfully worked out this rebellion by treating it as if it were a war, waged by ex-soldiers, chafing at their imprisonment, and looking for an avenue for freedom. Brown's skillful linking of Tacky's War to its African and Jamaican roots is an important venture in reconstructing the African Diaspora's past."--John Thornton, author of A Cultural History of the Atlantic World, 1250-1820
"Tacky's Revolt reveals a truly transatlantic eighteenth-century world of resistance and warfare. Reframing a story often told from the perspective of European colonizers and American planters, Brown successfully places African soldiers at the core of the narrative. A truly masterful piece."--Manuel Barcia, author of West African Warfare in Bahia and Cuba: Soldier Slaves in the Atlantic World, 1807-1844