Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution

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Harper Collins, Apr 25, 2006 - History - 478 pages

Rough Crossings turns on a single huge question: 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 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, 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.


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User Review  - cpg -

Not the most enjoyable of Schama's books, but very instructive. A good lesson for those who would issue a blanket condemnation of the American South, since it illustrates how widely the evils of slavery permeated elsewhere, too. Eye. Beam. Mote. etc. Read full review

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User Review  - busterrll -

Fantastic - but tough read. Well researched; learned a lot more about our founding fathers and how hypocritical they were. Race relations have changed but not nearly as far as we would think. Should be required reading. Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University in New York. His award-winning books include Scribble, Scribble, Scribble; The American Future: A History; National Book Critics Circle Award winner Rough Crossings; The Power of Art; The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age; Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution; Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations); Landscape and Memory; Rembrandt's Eyes; and the History of Britain trilogy. He has written and presented forty television documentary films for the BBC, PBS, and The History Channel, including the Emmy-winning Power of Art, on subjects that range from John Donne to Tolstoy.

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