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The Slave Trade (History Files)

James Walvin

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A scholarly yet accessible introduction to the history of the slave trade, complete with facsimile documents


The 16th-century Spanish and Portuguese explorers who went to Africa in search of gold discovered an even more lucrative cargo: slaves. Humans had long been traded in Africa, but the establishment of labour-hungry European plantation colonies in the New World gave these ancient systems new impetus.

A hugely profitable transatlantic trade in human lives soon developed, linking Europe, Africa and the Americas, and fortunes were built. African slaves and their descendants formed the work force that cultivated sugar throughout the Caribbean and Brazil, and tobacco, cotton and rice in the American South.

Although a fervent abolitionist campaign eventually succeeded in changing public opinion and forcing governments to outlaw it, the Atlantic slave trade persisted well into the 19th century, with incalculable human costs.

James Walvin is an expert guide to the origins, development, eventual abolition and legacies of the slave trade, focusing on the experiences of those who lived through slavery.

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'Packed with beautiful and interesting illustrations and prints. To my further delight … were the additional facsimile documents included in a pocket of the back cover … a special touch for the reader. When you purchase this book you will not be disappointed, I'm sure it will become a jewel in your collection'

'A very useful book indeed … about as comprehensive as it could be'
Black & Asian Studies

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 21.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 144 pp

Illustrations: 145

Publication date: 26 April 2011

ISBN: 9780500289174

Contents List

Introduction: A Trade with Global Consequences • 1. The European Slave Trade with Africa • 2. Sugar and Slavery • 3. The Middle Passage 4. Destinations and Slave Life 5. Slave Resistance • 6. Abolition 7. Legacies

About the Author

James Walvin is Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of York. He was curator of the Parliamentary exhibition on the abolition of the slave trade in 2007.