For more than three centuries, slave ships carried millions of people from the coasts of Africa to the New World. In The Slave Ship, award-winning historian Marcus Rediker creates an unprecedented history of these vessels and the human drama acted out on their rolling decks. Rediker restores the slave ship to its rightful place alongside the plantation as a formative institution of slavery, as a place where a profound and still haunting history of race, class, and modern capitalism was made.
…the notorious Middle Passage across the Atlantic, on which more than 12 million Africans were embarked for the Americas over more than three centuries, we know about almost entirely from the perpetrators. There are few accounts of this voyage by slaves…but an astonishingly large body of evidence remains from those who trafficked in human beings: letters, diaries, memoirs, captain's logbooks, shipping company records, testimony before British Parliamentary investigations, even poetry and at least one play by former slave-ship officers. It is this rich array of material that Marcus Rediker plumbs, more thoroughly than anyone else to date, for his masterly new book, The Slave Ship: A Human History…Rediker has made magnificent use of archival data; his probing, compassionate eye turns up numerous finds that other people who've written on this subject, myself included, have missed.