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Book cover for The Black Jacobins
January 2020

The Black Jacobins

By CLR James
With an Introduction and Notes by James Walvin
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'One of the last great polymaths' Sunday Times

'The founding father of African emancipation' The Times

'Contains some of the finest and most deeply felt polemical writing against slavery and racism ever published' Time Out

In 1791, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, the slaves of San Domingo rose in revolt. Despite invasion by a series of colonial armies, their twelve-year struggle led to the creation of Haiti, the first independent black republic outside Africa. Only three years later, the British and Americans ended the Atlantic slave trade.

CLR James illuminates these epoch-making events. He explores the utterly extraordinary story of former slave Toussaint L'Overture who led the revolt. Explicitly written as part of the fight to end colonialism in Africa, The Black Jacobins puts the slaves themselves centre stage, boldly forging their own destiny against nearly impossible odds. It remains an essential book for understanding the Caribbean - and the region's inextricable links with Europe, Africa and the Americas.

CLR James was born in Trinidad in 1901. He wrote extensively on Caribbean history, Marxist theory, literary criticism, Western civilisation, African politics, cricket and popular culture. He died in 1989.


Originally published by Penguin

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