The Diligent [electronic resource] : a voyage through the worlds of the slave trade /
Robert Harms.
1st ed.
New York : Basic Books, c2002.
xxx, 466 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
More Details
New York : Basic Books, c2002.
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 417-451) and index.
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Frederick Douglass Prize, USA, 2002 : Won
L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award, USA, 2003 : Nominated
Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, USA, 2002 : Nominated
Mark Lynton History Prize, USA, 2003 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-08-01:
This masterful narrative of an 18th-century French slaving voyage from Brittany to West Africa, on to Martinique in the Caribbean and back home again, is based on a journal kept by a young officer of the crew. But it is much more than that. Extensive research combined with the best of a novelist's style gives the reader a look at slavery from the perspective of the participants and the cultural and historical details of their worlds. Included are illustrations from the original manuscript. There is even a running analysis of the voyage's expenditures at each stage, because in the end, this voyage, and the entire trade, was based on the search for profits in an emerging capitalist world. One of the best books of the 20th century for bringing the realities of slaving before a general audience, this work also has a good deal to offer the specialist because of the quality and quantity of the research. For all levels and collections. R. T. Brown formerly, Westfield State College
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-12-01:
The author of two books on Africa, Harms follows the course of the French-owned slave ship The Diligent on its voyage in 1731 from Vannes, France, down the West African coast, and finally to Martinique, where almost 250 surviving captive Africans were sold. Harms used the private journal of the slaver's first lieutenant, Robert Durand, and combed the records worldwide to depict slave trading as it touched three continents. He takes the reader deep inside the politics, society, and economy of France, several West African peoples, Martinique, and more, showing how local interest determined the ways different people engaged in or became caught in the slave trade. It is a chilling history of the cold-bloodedness of people calculating their own profit trading in human cargo. Harms brings the many characters in the tale to light, finding no heroes among the merchants, outfitters, sailors, African chieftains, French sugar planters, and others involved in the trade. In detailing one voyage, he forces us to consider the enormity of the more than 40,000 voyages undertaken by slave ships voyages that forever changed the world. History as it should be written. Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-12-17:
Yale historian Harms (Games Against Nature) explores the global scope of an odious industry by tracking the slave ship Diligent, which sailed from Vannes, France, in 1731. Using First Lieut. Robert Durand's journal, Harms fleshes out the multinational web of trade relationships and transactions, both legal and illegal: European countries competing for profits; government-sanctioned monopolies giving way to private enterprise; African rulers vying for their share of the profits. The Diligent's cargo of 256 Africans was destined for Martinique's plantation industries, and the profit-and-loss ledger was the lieutenant's primary concern, writes Harris: "Durand mentioned the African captives only twice during the entire sixty-six days of the middle passage, and then only to record deaths." Paradoxically, given the nature of his business, Durand complained when having to leave a hostage in Elmina after a Bordeaux slaver abducted several African merchants, that such deceit made it difficult for "honest men" like himself to conduct trade. Most of the book offers observations based on Durand's journal rather than a patchwork of quotes from it. His reflections blend with other surviving accounts to reconstruct the events of the voyage, and copious footnotes document the extensive research Harms has done to tell the story. By fixing the French ship within the context of its 18th-century world, Harms explores part of a multilayered story "how the slave trade operated in certain places at a certain time... during a crucial period of economic and political transformation." In doing so, he extends our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade by shedding light on new aspects of its tragic history. 65 illustrations, many by Durand. (Jan. 15) Forecast: The middle passage has been a subject of interest in recent years; this should refocus attention on it and achieve good sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, December 2001
Library Journal, December 2001
Publishers Weekly, December 2001
Boston Globe, March 2002
New York Times Book Review, March 2002
Los Angeles Times, April 2002
Reference & Research Book News, May 2002
Choice, August 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. VII
Prefacep. XI
Illustrations Creditsp. XXIII
Acknowledgmentsp. XXIX
Matters of Moralityp. 1
The Financiersp. 29
Outfitting a Slaverp. 63
Sailing Southp. 87
Cruising the African Coastp. 119
Whydahp. 149
Assoup. 197
Jakinp. 225
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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