american history / book blog / book reviews / nonfiction

Sunday Scoop

Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroon

By Sylviane A. Diouf

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Good morning readers!! Welcome to another edition of the Sunday Scoop. This is a book that was released in Feb. of 2014. It is a non-fiction book. Yes I read an entire book that was full of facts. I obtained this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book gives us a look at what it was like to be a maroon. I admit I had heard the term before, but actually didn’t know exactly what it meant.

Over more than two centuries men, women, and children escaped from slavery to make the Southern wilderness their home. They hid in the mountains of Virginia and the low swamps of South Carolina; they stayed in the neighborhood or paddled their way to secluded places; they buried themselves underground or built comfortable settlements. Known as maroons, they lived on their own or set up communities in swamps or other areas where they were not likely to be discovered.

Although well-known, feared, celebrated or demonized at the time, the maroons whose stories are the subject of this book have been forgotten, overlooked by academic research that has focused on the Caribbean and Latin America. Who the American maroons were, what led them to choose this way of life over alternatives, what forms of marronage they created, what their individual and collective lives were like, how they organized themselves to survive, and how their particular story fits into the larger narrative of slave resistance are questions that this book seeks to answer. To survive, the American maroons reinvented themselves, defied slave society, enforced their own definition of freedom and dared create their own alternative to what the country had delineated as being black men and women’s proper place. Audacious, self-confident, autonomous, sometimes self-sufficient, always self-governing; their very existence was a repudiation of the basic tenets of slavery (description taken from NetGalley).

I admit I have a fascination with books about slaves and slavery. I think it is such a foreign concept to me that it intrigues me. Packed with interesting facts, this book reveals the nasty side of slavery. I had to keep reminding myself that these were stories of real people. They were incredible stories of resourcefulness and survival. The book also talks of the brutal punishment of the runaways: branding, severing ears, cutting off feet and whippings. I was surprised to find that some slaves ran away to the swamps, some to live with the Indians and others lived on the edges of the plantations in the woods or in caves. The book is supported with newspaper advertisements and court records. This is an important part of American History and it would be a valuable edition to any American History course. Slavery’s Exiles is a very valuable resource and is well done. I don’t know of any other book like this one!! I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!!

http://www.sylvianediouf.com/events.htm

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