National Book Critics Circle, Nonfiction, 2007
Rough Crossings turns on a single huge question: if you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, who would you want to win?
Tens of thousands gave their answer, voting with their feet for Britain and King George. In response to a declaration by the last governor of Virginia that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the King would be emancipated, tens of thousands of slaves, Americans who clung to the sentimental notion of British freedom, escaped from farms, plantations, and cities to try to reach the British camp. This mass movement lasted as long as the war did, and a military strategy originally designed to break the plantations of the American South had unleashed one of the great exoduses in American history.
With powerfully vivid storytelling, often in the voices of the slaves themselves and the white abolitionists who became their emancipators and protectors, Schama details the odyssey of the escaped blacks through the fires of war and the terror of potential recapture at the war's end, into inhospitable Nova Scotia, where thousands who had served the Crown were betrayed and, in a little-known hegira of the slave epic, sent across the broad, stormy ocean to Sierra Leone.
©2006 Simon Schama; (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"Schama once again gives his readers something rare: history that is both well told and well documented. In this wonderfully sprawling epic...he manages to bring a scene, a person, a conversation dramatically to life. Would that more historians wrote like this." (Publishers Weekly)
This is an outstanding book to listen to. It has high production values, in that the sound quality is good and the author, who also narrates, does an outstanding job. As for the book itself it touches on for me unknown and interesting incidents in American history as well as the fate of black loyalists who emigrate to Canada and then to Sierra Leone.
This audiobook was read by the author (Simon Schama) and while it was a facinating 'read' and well worth the time, I found it hard to follow the audio because of the phrasing used. He seemed to read by phrase instead of sentences. Since many of his sentences were long it was difficult to keep the continuity with all the breaks in speech.
Even with this distraction though, I very much enjoyed all the detail he gave about the various people involved, and felt I'd learned quite a bit by the end. This is certainly and conspicuously missing from the history as we were taught it in school.
Definitely--a totally new perspective on African-American history in North America.
Learning something completely unexpected.
His delivery is fabulous, because he's both the author and an accomplished lecturer, so no nuance is missed.
One of the best that I have ever listened to. Very well written and performed, very comprehensive and it was laid out logically and was easy to follow.
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