Rough Crossings

The Slaves, the British, and the American Revolution
Narrated by: Simon Schama
Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins
Categories: History, Africa
4.3 out of 5 stars (120 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"The most dramatic account so far of the extraordinary expeience of slaves in and after the American Revolution.... Schama's gift for plunging us into the very center of the action makes reading an exhilarating and often moving experience." (Daily Telegraph)

If you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, whom would you want to win? In response to a declaration by the last governor of Virginia that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the King would be emancpated, tens of thousands of blacks voted with feet, escaping to fight beside the British. Originally designed to break the plantations of the American South, this military strategy instead unleashed one of the great exoduses in American history.

Told in the voices of the slaves and the white abolitionists who aided them, Simon Schama vividly details the odyssey of these escaped blacks, shedding light on an extraordinary chapter in America's birth.

©2006 Simon Schama (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about Rough Crossings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding book

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.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great author, great reader.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely--a totally new perspective on African-American history in North America.

What did you like best about this story?

Learning something completely unexpected.

What does Simon Schama bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His delivery is fabulous, because he's both the author and an accomplished lecturer, so no nuance is missed.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Should be Required Reading

For anyone stupid enough to think that black Americans had choices of whether to be a slave or a free person, they really should do themselves a great favor and listen to this book. For anyone who thinks that black Americans didn't do enough to gain their inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that white people had, they too should read/listen to this book. It pained me to hear of so many accounts of the great and desperate pursuits that black people endeavored in order to be free from their oppressive and tyrannical slave owners. It also pained me that these slave owners were deluded in their hypocritical minds that they SHOULD have their INDEPENDENCE from the monarch of Great Britain and the King, but that THEY should be allowed to keep, domineer, oppress and silence black people because it was an ENTITLEMENT of their superiority as God's chosen people. The manner in which blacks were toyed with and used as pawns on both sides of the aisle was heart wrenching. I learned so much and now have a deeper respect for my ancestors who were able to endure the hell on earth they lived each and every day of being black, perpetually inferior, afraid and denied even a modicum of humanity.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great book but I had trouble following the Reader

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.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Splendid

Compelling ... very well written .... great combination of transmitting a not well know series of occurrences with American slaves preceding the American Revolution and the epic ordeal for freedom after. The author keeps you engaged by eloquently bring the people the experienced / endured to life ... it is the kind of historical account that is great to read