Rough Crossings: Book summary and reviews of Rough Crossings by Simon Schama

Rough Crossings

Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution

by Simon Schama

Rough Crossings

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Book Summary

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.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Critics Circle Award, 2006

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Schama's Oxbridge voice, so overwhelmingly appealing to American listeners, who innately associate its sounds with the presence of deep wells of intelligence, is a lovely serving dish for his book's meal, decorating and presenting his work with an authoritative upper-class flourish." - PW.

"The book's strength is the discussion of Sierra Leone, in which Schama uses original source material to create an absorbing real-life tale. It is here that he hits his stride. Highly recommended" - Library Journal.

"An important contribution to the history of the Revolution, and of slavery in America." - Kirkus Reviews.

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