Wake: Book summary and reviews of Wake by Rebecca Hall

Wake

The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

by Rebecca Hall

Wake by Rebecca Hall X
Wake by Rebecca Hall
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About this book

Book Summary

Part graphic novel, part memoir, Wake is an imaginative tour-de-force that tells the story of women-led slave revolts and chronicles scholar Rebecca Hall's efforts to uncover the truth about these women warriors who, until now, have been left out of the historical record.

Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history.

Wake tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall, a historian, granddaughter of slaves, and a woman haunted by the legacy of slavery. The accepted history of slave revolts has always told her that enslaved women took a back seat. But Rebecca decides to look deeper, and her journey takes her through old court records, slave ship captain's logs, crumbling correspondence, and even the forensic evidence from the bones of enslaved women from the "negro burying ground" uncovered in Manhattan. She finds women warriors everywhere.

Using in-depth archival research and a measured use of historical imagination, Rebecca constructs the likely pasts of Adono and Alele, women rebels who fought for freedom during the Middle Passage, as well as the stories of women who led slave revolts in Colonial New York. We also follow Rebecca's own story as the legacy of slavery shapes life, both during her time as a successful attorney and later as a historian seeking the past that haunts her.

Illustrated beautifully in black and white, Wake will take its place alongside classics of the graphic novel genre, like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Art Spiegelman's Maus. The story of both a personal and national legacy, it is a powerful reminder that while the past is gone, we still live in its wake.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A vividly illustrated account of Black women rebels that combines elements of memoir, archival research, and informed imaginings of its subjects' lives...An urgent, brilliant work of historical excavation." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Hall's nuanced and affecting debut graphic narrative uncovers history that has either been assumed non-existent or rendered violently so by its almost complete erasure from official record...Readers will be left with plenty to think about." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Martínez's dramatic woodcut-style illustrations are the perfect complement to Hall's clear-eyed, impactful storytelling...A necessary corrective to violent erasure and a tribute to untold strength, this awe-inspiring collaboration should find a wide audience." - Booklist (starred review)

"Not only a riveting tale of Black women's leadership of slave revolts but an equally dramatic story of the engaged scholarship that enabled its discovery." - Angela Y. Davis, Political Activist and Professor Emerita, Departments of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz

"In this beautiful and moving graphic novel, historian Rebecca Hall unearths a history so often overlooked: the significant role Black women played in leading slave revolts. Through Hugo Martinez's vivid graphics, combined with Hall's brilliant insights and powerful storytelling, Wake transports the reader to a moment in time when a group of Black women set out to overturn the institution of slavery in British North America. Their courageous story, told with remarkable skill and elegance, offers hope and inspiration for us all." - Keisha N. Blain, co-editor of the #1 NYT bestseller 400 Souls, award-winning author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom

"We that live in the wake of centuries of white supremacy feel the hidden history of our ancestors ' struggle to survive uncovered in this book. In its pages we not only feel their sorrow in bondage, but also their elation when they finally broke free." - Ben Passmore, author of Your Black Friend

This information about Wake was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall, JD, PhD, is a scholar, activist, and educator. After graduating Berkeley Law in 1989, she represented low-income tenants and homeless families for eight years before returning to get her PhD in history. She has taught at UC Santa Cruz, Berkeley Law, Berkeley's history department, and as a visiting professor of law at the University of Utah. She writes and publishes on the history of race, gender, law, and resistance as well as articles on climate justice and intersectional feminist theory. Rebecca has been an activist her entire life, fighting for women's and LGBT rights and against nuclear weapons, Apartheid, and US militarism. She is dedicated to the movement for Climate Justice, and is also currently involved with Black Lives Matter and rapid response support for families facing deportation. She is also working on a collection of essays on the history of "racialized gender" in developing chattel slavery in America, and how this shapes our constructs of race and gender to this day. Dr. Hall's work has been supported by numerous grants and fellowships, including the American Association of University Women, The Ford Foundation, The Mellon Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

Hugo Martínez is an independent comic artist focused on depicting narratives of struggle, identity, and resilience. He is based in New Orleans.

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