The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution - C.L.R. James

Painting by January Suchodolski of Haitian Revolution

This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille but became the model for the Third World liberation movements from Africa to Cuba.

It is the story of the French colony of San Domingo, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was commonplace and ingeniously refined. And it is the story of a barely literate slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces and in the process helped form the first independent nation in the Caribbean.

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Comments

Sike
Jan 22 2016 19:40

Excellent Read, one of my all time favorites.

I especially liked how James notes how several times the "insurgent masses" among the liberated slaves, many of whom were from Africa, often saved the day and forced the revolution to remain on track through guerrilla warfare when the more bourgeoise minded revolutionary leaders such as Toussaint were at times ready to capitulate to the slavers in exchange for guarantees of amnesty for themselves.

Sleeper
Jan 23 2016 19:37

I read this many years ago because it was recommended to me at the time. It was crap then and still is.

juandonosti
Jan 2 2018 02:36

Cyril Lionel Robert James (4 January 1901 – 31 May 1989) who sometimes wrote under the pen-name J. R. Johnson, was an Afro-Trinidadian historian, journalist and socialist. His works are influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts. His work is a staple of subaltern studies, and he figures as a pioneering and influential voice in postcolonial literature. A tireless political activist, James's work World Revolution outlining the history of the Communist International stirred debate in Trotskyist circles, and his history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, is a seminal text in the literature of the African Diaspora.