The Slave Trade

David Musgrove on an excellent summary of human bondage

The Slave Trade
Author: James Walvin
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: David Musgrove
Price (RRP): £12.95

Walvin is a leading scholar of slavery. His latest book is a short introduction to the subject. It makes for interesting reading particularly if you’re not an expert on the topic.

He makes some trenchant remarks about the nature of the trade, pointing out that enslaved Africans on the ships to the Americas so vastly outnumbered the crews that a system of “violence on an epic scale” was the result.

Included are several facsimile documents. Perhaps most disturbingly fascinating is an 1859 Slave Sale Notice from Charleston.

It lists the names and ages of slaves being sold, but the inhumanity of the business is highlighted by the marginal notes made presumably by a prospective buyer: London, 26, is marked as “healthy, strong”, Betty, 25, is “breeding”, while the name of Rose, 15, is crossed through and annotated “Dead”.

David Musgrove is editor of BBC History Magazine

Cry Havoc: The Arms Race and the Second World War 1931–1941
previous book review Article
Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East
next book review Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here