Toussaint Louverture by Madison Smartt Bell
A Biography

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At the end of the 1700s, French Saint Domingue was the richest and most brutal colony in the Western Hemisphere. A mere twelve years later, however, Haitian rebels had defeated the Spanish, British, and French and declared independence after the first—and only—successful slave revolt in history. Much of the success of the revolution must be credited to one man, Toussaint Louverture, a figure about whom surprisingly little is known. In this fascinating biography, Madison Smartt Bell, award-winning author of a trilogy of novels that investigate Haiti’s history, combines a novelist’s passion with a deep knowledge of the historical milieu that produced the man labeled a saint, a martyr, or a clever opportunist who instigated one of the most violent events in modern history. The first biography in English in over sixty years of the man who led the Haitian Revolution, this is an engaging reexamination of the controversial, paradoxical leader.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Madison Smartt Bell

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Madison Smartt Bell has published twelve novels and two collections of short stories. His novels include Soldier's Joy, Dr. Sleep, Ten Indians, and Save Me, Joe Louis. His eighth novel, All Souls' Rising, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Bell, a Professor of English and Director of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing at Goucher College, lives in Maryland with his family.
Published June 9, 2009 by Vintage. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Bell notes that we know little about Toussaint’s early years (spent on a plantation, where he worked with horses), but by the time the revolution exploded in 1791, he’d been free for about 15 years and had owned slaves himself.

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The New York Times

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just think of our own Thomas Jefferson — who, incidentally, ordered money and muskets sent to his fellow slave owners to suppress Toussaint’s drive for freedom, saying of it, “Never was so deep a tragedy presented to the feelings of man.” Adam Hochschild’s most recent book is “Bury the Chains: Pr...

Feb 25 2007 | Read Full Review of Toussaint Louverture: A Biogr...

Bookmarks Magazine

In what has been described as the most successful large-scale slave revolt in history, Haiti’s 1803 independence from France resulted largely from the heroic leadership of Toussaint Louverture, a former slave who led a 12-year uprising in the French slave colony of St. Domingue before dying in Na...

Aug 07 2007 | Read Full Review of Toussaint Louverture: A Biogr...

International Socialist Review

In San Domingue, James writes, the Black slaves “had heard of the revolution and had construed it in their own image: the white slaves in France had risen, and killed their masters, and were now enjoying the fruits of the earth.

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