Rough Crossings by Simon Schama
Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution

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Synopsis

Rough Crossings turns on a single huge question: if you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, whom would you want to win? In response to a declaration by the last governor of Virginia that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the King would be emancipated, tens of thousands of slaves -- Americans who clung to the sentimental notion of British freedom -- escaped from farms, plantations and cities to try to reach the British camp. This mass movement lasted as long as the war did, and a military strategy originally designed to break the plantations of the American South had unleashed one of the great exoduses in American history.

With powerfully vivid storytelling, Schama details the odyssey of the escaped blacks through the fires of war and the terror of potential recapture at the war's end, into inhospitable Nova Scotia, where thousands who had served the Crown were betrayed and, in a little-known hegira of the slave epic, sent across the broad, stormy ocean to Sierra Leone.

 

About Simon Schama

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Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University in New York. His award-winning books include The American Future: A History; National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Rough Crossings; The Power of Art; The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age; Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution; Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations); Landscape and Memory; Rembrandt's Eyes; and the History of Britain trilogy. He has written and presented forty television documentary films for the BBC, PBS, and the History Channel-including the Emmy Award-winning Power of Art-on subjects that range from John Donne to Tolstoy.
 
Published January 1, 2006 by Joseph Koehler. 496 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Rough Crossings

Kirkus Reviews

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Was the England of King George less racist than the America of George Washington? Yes, for which reason thousands of Africans and African-Americans cast their lot with England when revolution came.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Rough Crossings: Britain, the...

Publishers Weekly

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[Signature] Reviewed by Adam Hochschild Has there ever been a patch of history more celebrated than the American

Mar 06 2006 | Read Full Review of Rough Crossings: Britain, the...

The Guardian

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But what Phillips makes clear is that there were battles within, as well as between, the black and white communities.

Oct 02 2007 | Read Full Review of Rough Crossings: Britain, the...

The Guardian

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Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution by Simon Schama 384pp, BBC Books, £20 Slavery has caught the public attention - at last.

Sep 03 2005 | Read Full Review of Rough Crossings: Britain, the...

Publishers Weekly

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The British commander in New York at the war's end, where some 3,000 runaway slaves had taken refuge, adamantly refused an irate Washington's demand to give them back.

Mar 06 2006 | Read Full Review of Rough Crossings: Britain, the...

Gather Books

Promised freedom if they would side with the British, these people found themselves shuttled to Newfoundland, from there to England, then off to Africa.

Nov 30 2007 | Read Full Review of Rough Crossings: Britain, the...

Reviews in History

Schama (2005: 17) assures readers of the obligation to, 'tell the story of Anglo-American conflict, both during the revolution and after, in a freshly complicated way.' This alternative form of history-telling is necessary for Schama's case for a revision of traditional perceptions of the events.

| Read Full Review of Rough Crossings: Britain, the...

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