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American uprising : the untold story of America's largest slave revolt
Rasmussen, Daniel
Adult Nonfiction F379.N557 R37 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This study of a January 1811 slave uprising and march on New Orleans exhumes the deliberately obscured and "largest act of armed resistance against slavery in the history of the United States." Historian Rasmussen expands on scarce source material to provide a complex context for a revolt that dwarfed such better-known rebellions as Nat Turner's and Denmark Vesey's, a stealthily organized uprising of 500 armed slaves dressed in military uniforms marching on and trying to conquer New Orleans. The author ties together diverse political, economic, and cultural threads in describing the rise (and brutal suppression) of the "ethnically diverse, politically astute, and highly organized" army, and investigates why this "story more Braveheart than Beloved" was consigned to historical footnote. While the book's ambition occasionally exceeds its grasp, it vividly evokes the atmosphere of New Orleans of the early 19th century and how a recalcitrant, French-rooted Louisiana and some Spanish possessions in the Deep South were incorporated into the expanding American nation though brutal revenge justice and political pressures. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Rasmussen's auspicious debut (he graduated from Harvard in 2009) is the first book-length account of a large-scale, three-day slave revolt on the sugar plantations near New Orleans during the 1811 Carnival (Mardi Gras) season. The author argues that the slave-rebels, who had learned warfare tactics in their native Africa, were inspired by the successful Haitian revolution. These were not common criminals but political revolutionaries, contrary to the scant historical accounts of those eager to squash threats to the South's slave-reliant economy and deter its western expansion. Rasmussen, who boldly interjects opinions and conjecture into his narrative rather than allowing readers to come to their own conclusions, paints the slave-rebels, especially their leaders, as heroes and martyrs for the cause of liberty, and the slave owners and white politicians as ruthless, greedy, and inept. With few reliable primary sources at his disposal, he fills out his work with thorough historical context and vivid descriptions of the radically different daily lives of slaves and planters in antebellum Louisiana. VERDICT This is a welcome addition to popular history and an engaging read for anyone interested in this important chapter in the tragic story of American slavery. Scholars may have concerns about Rasmussen's rather heavy-handed characterizations.-Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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