• Island on Fire

  • The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire
  • By: Tom Zoellner
  • Narrated by: Mirron Willis
  • Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Island on Fire

By: Tom Zoellner
Narrated by: Mirron Willis
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Publisher's Summary

From a New York Times best-selling author, a gripping account of the slave rebellion that led to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

For five horrific weeks after Christmas in 1831, Jamaica was convulsed by an uprising of its enslaved people. What started as a peaceful labor strike quickly turned into a full-blown revolt, leaving hundreds of plantation houses in smoking ruins. By the time British troops had put down the rebels, more than a thousand Jamaicans lay dead from summary executions and extrajudicial murder.

While the rebels lost their military gamble, their sacrifice accelerated the larger struggle for freedom in the British Atlantic. The daring and suffering of the Jamaicans galvanized public opinion throughout the empire, triggering a decisive turn against slavery. For centuries bondage had fed Britain’s appetite for sugar. Within two years of the Christmas rebellion, slavery was formally abolished.

Island on Fire is a dramatic day-by-day account of this transformative uprising. A skillful storyteller, Tom Zoellner goes back to the primary sources to tell the intimate story of the men and women who rose up and tasted liberty for a few brief weeks. He provides the first full portrait of the rebellion’s enigmatic leader, Samuel Sharpe, and gives us a poignant glimpse of the struggles and dreams of the many Jamaicans who died for liberty.

©2020 Tom Zoellner (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Island on Fire

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Learned a lot

As a Jamaican expatriot who was afforded a very good High School Education I was surprised to learn how little I knew of my own roots. I have recommended this book to others and will definitely be listening again to absorb some more to pass on to my grandchild.

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This is a must read!

Brilliantly written and very well read. Harrowing at first, then ultimately profoundly inspiring. Stick through the wrenching descriptions about the horrors of slavery. It makes the miracle of liberation all the more momentous.

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History at it's best!

A must read. This is a facanating, heart wrenching story. A bonus that it's well read.

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Heinous and Barbaric

There are no other words to describe the treatment of Africans by Europeans in Jamaica. Heinous and barbaric, to say the least and Tom Zoellner told the story exceptionally well. This is a must read for anyone wanting to know the history of Jamaicans, and indeed the history of enslaved peoples all over the world.

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Important Story Worth Telling

Zoellner's well-written work, beautifully read by Willis, tells the story of the 1831-32 Sam Sharpe Slave Revolt in Jamaica which contributed the end of slavery in all British territories. Working wonders using frequently scant research materials, they provide a picture of a debauched, slave-based society faced with a courageous, largely non-violent work stoppage cum rebellion on a large scale. Though brutally suppressed, the revolt and the methods used to quell it help Baptist missionaries and reform politicians put through long-resisted anti-slavery legislation in the wake of the British Reform Bill of 1830.

I was aware of Britain ending slavery decades before the USA, but unaware or only dimly aware of the role of revolt in producing that change. This book is vital reading for those interested in British, Caribbean (especially Jamaican), or broader American history. Highly recommended.

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Fascinating

Excellent history of the uprising of enslaved people in Jamaica. I learned so much! Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-15-22

well researched, well written, enlightening.

I knew little about the subject so this was thoroughly enlightening. the author has shone a light on so many interesting topics. of course such cruelty will always be hard to listen to but this is thoroughly enjoyable book

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  • Ronald Monfries
  • 08-26-22

The telling of a fight for humanity.

Lays bare the brutality that had been put upon stolen and enslaved people before, during and after a reach for freedom in the early 1800's.

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  • Patsy
  • 03-26-22

Excellent informative book, superbly read.

This book is a must read, in fact, in my opinion, it should be part of our school curriculum. It gives a fascinating insight into British history of which many people in this country are totally unaware. Mirron's voice is wonderful and helps make the book a compelling "read".