Book Review: "The Black Jacobins"

The book, "The Black Jacobins" written by CLR James is a very intriguing book that exclusively focuses on the Haitian Revolution that took place between 1791 and 1803. This revolution is famous for being the only successful revolution by slaves in history. The Haitian slave colony constituted of African slaves who were able to liberate themselves and establish an independent country. This struggle for independence produced great leaders such as Toussaint L'Ouverture. This essay will examine "The Black Jacobins" in terms of its merits as well as its flaws.

The author of this book is famous for being one of the most vocal anti- colonial Marxists of his time. In this book; he gives the reader a clear account of the revolution. Essentially, how slaves in Saint- Dominigue successfully rebelled and became free citizens of an independent Haiti. The battle scenes described in the book are simply breathtaking, creating a rousing rhetoric for liberation as well as against oppression. Overall, it is a thrilling account of political intrigue. However, one can note that the author spent a too much time focusing on Toussaint L'Overture rather than social revolution. This is understandable since he was instrumental in the struggle. He was both a military general and a shrewd diplomat.

Though the book is an exciting read, the blatant injustice and brutality of slavery as well as the inhuman treatment is appalling. For instance, the author tells a story of how slave masters would fill up a slave with gun powder and light a fuse. This was a punishment that would be commonly meted out to errant slaves. Eventually, the slaves begin their revolution and are able to defeat the French. This transforms both the old and the new worlds, leaving slave masters terrified.

"The Black Jacobins" is a well written book that uses revolutionary history to help most of the struggles today. With forced occupation of countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, this book can help us learn a lot. The revolution of Haiti is an important lesson in terms of class struggle, self- determination, as well as international solidarity for social revolution being the only method of solving imperialism in the world.

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