The Book of Negroes

Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes is an important read for anyBook of Negroesone wanting to know more about the history of the slave trade.  Spanning the years 1745 to 1802, it tells the tale of Aminata Diallo, a woman who was abducted as a child by slave traders from her tribal home in the interior of Africa.  Aminata survives the incomprehensible – the madness of individuals who plucked people from their homes, subjected them to treatment not normally accepted for animals, and sold them for financial gain.   Through all of this Aminata learned to read and became a scribe, a midwife, and later a storyteller.  She is a strong character and a strong voice for freedom.

Perhaps because this book read like a life story, I found it did not keep me rivetted and I often wanted to put it down to take a break from reading about the cruelties that people are capable of inflicting on each other.   While reading The Book of Negroes I thought often about Austenpolished hoe Clarke’s The Polished Hoe which was set in Barbados as opposed to Africa, America, and England.  It too featured a strong female and ‘discussed’ the slave trade but something about Clarke’s story made it difficult for me to put the book down.  I would recommend both of these books to anyone interested in the history of slavery.

Hill’s book includes a valuable list of the resources he used for his research at the back of the book.


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