Slavery defined the Atlantic world. African forced labour produced the primary materials that drove European mercantile economies. The plantation complex lay at the core of societies from Brazil and the West Indies to the American mainland and West Africa.
Timing counts for so much in publishing and that is never clearer than when a major anniversary approaches. With the centenary of the First World War not yet actually upon us, there has already been a rush of publications. Meanwhile, just as many of the grandest television and radio programmes promised by the BBC have already been aired. Do we know anything we did not know a year or two ago?
For every large historical topic – and the transatlantic slave trade is certainly a large one – there is a need for good small books to introduce the academic understanding of the topic to students and the general public. The writing of a good small book on a large topic, however, can be no small challenge.
How can you know about somewhere you’ve never been? This predicament is at the heart of David Lambert’s superb new book, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In 1841 the Scottish geographer and proslavery propagandist James MacQueen published A New Map of Africa. MacQueen had never visited the continent.
Since the 1970s a new phase in the historiography of Irish foreign policy has developed, moving beyond the focus on Anglo-Irish relations to examine other bilateral diplomatic relationships (with the US and Africa for example), regional and international ties, aid, ethics, gender, and the role of individual diplomats among other issues.
The main aim of this book is to answer the following question: how does one account for the speed with which the Arab empire was built? The period covered extends from the rise of Islam down to the middle of the eighth century.
In a review in this very forum in 2009 Clare Anderson praised a shift in Indian Ocean studies.
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Jordan Landes talks to Elizabeth Williams about her most recent book, the first to examine the British support for the anti-apartheid movement among its own black communities.
Elizabeth Williams is a subject librarian at Goldsmiths University of London.
Algeria was colonised and departmentalised by the French in the 19th century, and by 1954 around a million Algerians of European origin lived in the settler colony. Following a seven-and-a-half-year war against France, Algeria officially became independent in 1962.