The Universal Consensus Within Twentieth Century History

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The universal consensus within twentieth century historiography regarding the cruelty and inhumane nature of New World slavery and the Atlantic slave trade encouraged many late century historians to focus on sub-topics containing more substantive academic debate. This led to scholarship which emphasized African slave’s efforts to resist their new status and to maintain their cultural identity. However, in the last few years, some historians have tried to reverse this trend. They view these diversions towards slave resistance as a minimization on the obvious atrocities they believe should be the center of scholarship on New World slavery. Greg Grandin’s The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World attempts to refocus the reader’s attention on the sheer violence and human suffering that was the Atlantic slave trade in the early-nineteenth century. The framework of The Empire of Necessity follows three related, and sometimes connected, story lines. Grandin centers the book around the captain of a seal hunting ship from Massachusetts, a French privateer, and the crew of a rebellious slave ship as they all try and navigate the waters off of South America in the hopes of securing personal gain. While a truly engaging and emotional work of popular history, filled with thrilling tales of pirate battles, rebellions, and intimate details on the relentless inhumanity of the slave trade, when judged strictly on academic standards Grandin falls short. He
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