The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

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Macmillan, Jan 14, 2014 - History - 360 pages
25 Reviews

From the acclaimed author of Fordlandia, the story of a remarkable slave rebellion that illuminates America’s struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of Revolution and beyond

One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren’t. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence.

Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event—an event that already inspired Herman Melville’s masterpiece Benito Cereno. Now historian Greg Grandin, with the gripping storytelling that was praised in Fordlandia, uses the dramatic happenings of that day to map a new transnational history of slavery in the Americas, capturing the clash of peoples, economies, and faiths that was the New World in the early 1800s.


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The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

User Review  - Pam Kingsbury - Book Verdict

Grandin (Fordlandia) here tells the story of 1805 events off the coast of a secluded island in the South Pacific that also inspired Herman Melville's Benito Cereno. New Englander Amasa Delano, a seal ... Read full review

Review: The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

User Review  - Mike - Goodreads

A beautifully written and deeply researched book, The Empire of Necessity looks at the issue of slavery in the 1800s through the lens of the real life story of a slave ship rebellion that inspired ... Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Greg Grandin is the author of Fordlandia, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, as well as Empire’s Workshop and The Blood of Guatemala. A professor of history at New York University and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, Grandin has served on the UN Truth Commission investigating the Guatemalan Civil War and has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, New Statesman, and The New York Times.

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