Friday, February 15, 2008

The African Slave Trade by Basil Davidson

The African Slave Trade by Basil Davidson is an attempt to look at the effects of the slave trade on the continent of Africa. This is rather difficult since there aren't any African sources so History must be built out of the records kept by whites. The book covers the space of time from first contacts in the 15th century through the end of the slave trade in the 19th century. The argument is made that final abolishment came about not only from the pressure of the various religious societies but also resulted from the economic reality of the Industrial Revolution.

The book is divided into a general study of perceptions on both sides then smaller case studies discussing the effects on both coasts. Intriguingly the European fear of cannibals was also mirrored by the Africans some thought they were being seized to provide nourishment for the slavers.

The writing style is rather dry. There are occasional footnotes, maps and a further reading section. This was published back in 1988 I'm not sure how well this is held up but by itself it seems to be well thought out.


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