The Slave Ship A Human History Essays

Jillian MiesnerMarcus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History, (New York: Penguin, 2007)Within the book The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker, he bring to life the authentic horrors of the Atlantic slave trade and what truly happened on the slave ships. Rediker's thesis spoke about the four dramas that were played out on the ships by “the ship captain, the motley crew, the multi-ethnic enslaved, and towards the end of the period, middle-class abolitionists”(6). The author then moves onto detail what he calls “human dramas”. The human dramas he describes are actually four different scenarios that were played out most often on the slave ships. The first being “the relationship between the slave-ship captain and his crew”(6), the “actors” would be the captain on the ship and the crew. This was then came the second human drama, which would be “the relationship between sailors and slaves”(7). The slaves and sailors served as the “actors” in this scene. Following was the third “drama”, which was made up of the slaves from different tribes who worked together to survive their journey through hell, a tad bit more bearable. Leaving the last “drama”to be what came about in society in America and Britain's society. It was the reaction to slave ships in society and the actions of abolitionists that created the actors of this drama. Starting the first “drama”-as Rediker puts it- is the relationship between a captain and his crew. These relationships varied in the ways they worked some great, some harsh but consistent patterns of cruelty was most prominent. For Example the author explains the basic role of the

The missing link in the chain of American slavery

For three centuries slave ships carted millions of people from the coasts of Africa across the Atlantic to the Americas. Much is known of the slave trade and the American plantation system, but little of the ships that made it all possible. In The Slave Ship, award-winning historian Marcus Rediker draws on thirty years ofThe missing link in the chain of American slavery

For three centuries slave ships carted millions of people from the coasts of Africa across the Atlantic to the Americas. Much is known of the slave trade and the American plantation system, but little of the ships that made it all possible. In The Slave Ship, award-winning historian Marcus Rediker draws on thirty years of research in maritime archives to create an unprecedented history of these vessels and the human drama acted out on their rolling decks. He reconstructs in chilling detail the lives, deaths, and terrors of captains, sailors, and the enslaved aboard a “floating dungeon” trailed by sharks. From the young African kidnapped from his village and sold into slavery by a neighboring tribe to the would-be priest who takes a job as a sailor on a slave ship only to be horrified at the evil he sees to the captain who relishes having “a hell of my own,” Rediker illuminates the lives of people who were thought to have left no trace.

This is a tale of tragedy and terror, but also an epic of resilience, survival, and the creation of something entirely new. Marcus Rediker restores the slave ship to its rightful place alongside the plantation as a formative institution of slavery, a place where a profound and still haunting history of race, class, and modern economy was made....more

Hardcover, 434 pages

Published December 13th 2007 by Viking Books (first published 2007)

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