Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Darling

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The Darling

by Russell Banks

The Darling
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2004, 384 pages
    Oct 2005, 416 pages

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Liberia is a tiny country on the west coast of Africa which was claimed by the USA in the early 19th century for the purposes of repatriating free blacks back to Africa.  The 'American Colonization Society' was supported by two very different groups: abolitionists who wanted to free African slaves and their descendants and 'repatriate' them, and slave owners who feared free people of color and wanted to expel them from America.  They found a little patch of Africa that hadn't already been claimed by any of the European powers, and the first colonists arrived around 1820. In 1847 (after a couple of decades of conflict with the indigenous people, who were understandably none to pleased at being colonized) the legislature of Liberia declared itself an independent state.  From the start the structure of Liberian society was layered: the small percentage of Americo-Liberians being at the top of the pile with a hold on the ...

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