The groundbreaking history of the Atlantic slave trade, winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize, the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, and the J. Russell Major Prize.
In The Diligent, acclaimed historian Robert Harms reveals the complex workings of the slave trade by drawing on the private journal of First Lieutenant Robert Durand to recreate the macabre journey of a French slave ship.
The Diligent began her journey in Brittany in 1731, and Harms follows her along the African coast where her goods were traded for slaves, then to Martinique where her captives were sold to work on sugar plantations. He brings to life a world in which slavery was carried out without qualms: the gruesome details of daily life aboard a slave ship, French merchants wrangling for the right to traffic in slaves, African kings waging epic wars for control of slave trading posts, and representatives of European governments negotiating the complicated politics of the Guinea coast to ensure a steady supply of labor for their countries' colonies.
By combining the detailed story of an expedition with an exploration of the significant personalities and events that were shaping Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean in the early eighteenth century, The Diligent provides an intimate understanding of a horrifying world.
About the Author
Robert Harms is Henry J. Heinz Professor of History and African Studies at Yale University. He is the author of several books on African history, including The Diligent, winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize, the Frederick Douglass Prize, and the J. Russell Major Prize. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut.
"Harms has brought to this undertaking decades of training, deep knowledge of his subject and a historian's fascination with the strangeness of the past. He has produced an original book that will endure... As a comprehensive and multilayered appreciation of that trade, The Diligent has no peer."—New York Times Book Review
"History as it should be written."—Library Journal
"Africanist Robert Harms provides the most vivid and useful description of a typical slave trading voyage ever written. Imaginatively constructed, deftly, and engagingly written, a model of research, the book takes the reader deep into the tragic heart of the eighteenth-century Atlantic."—H Net Book Review
"A beautifully written, meticulously researched, compelling narrative that reveals the greed, brutality and inhumanity of the Atlantic slave trade."—The News and Observer
"A compelling and illuminating narrative ...For a sense of what the trade involved and how it was made possible, Harms' story is unrivaled."—Los Angeles Times Book Review