Sweet Water and Bitter: The Ships that Stopped the Slave Trade
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Sweet Water and Bitter: The Ships that Stopped the Slave Trade

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  11 ratings  ·  4 reviews
Sweet Water and Bitter is the extraordinary sequel to Britain's abolition of the slave trade in 1807. The last legal British slave ship left Africa that year, but other countries and illegal slavers continued to trade. When the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, British diplomats negotiated anti-slave-trade treaties and a 'Preventive Squadron' was formed to cruise the West Afr...more
Paperback, 340 pages
Published 2010 by Vintage Random House, London (first published 2009)
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Rees unravels an amazingly complex story, played out over 62 years, from the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 till its fulfilment, ‘the Atlantic slave trade has ended’, in 1869 – though she makes the point that slavery in many other forms continues to this day.

The broad statements of the Prologue make much more sense when it is read again, after reading the book. It is the history of the Preventive Squadron of the British Navy, with its own mixed motives, frustrated by dissimulation, ineffec...more
Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807, it took over 60 years for the West African slave trade to be eradicated. Sian Rees's book chronicles the work of the Preventative Squadron, the Royal Naval vessels who patrolled, the coast the West Africa, stopping slave ships and freeing their unfortunate cargoes. Britain was alone for much of the 60 years, most European countries, along with America, Cuba and Brazil and notably the African chiefs opposed and attempted to thwart their humanitarian effo...more
Didn't take this with me on holiday, so will resume reading when I return.
Back from vacation, have picked this up again (April 14).

Although this was quite a slow read for me, with a long break as I didn't take it on Easter holiday with me, I found this a very interesting read. The events recounted here were not at all known to me. This book certainly added a great deal of detail to the overall picture that has been forming over the years now that this spiral on the theme of slavery has been runn...more
May 01, 2012 jen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish

I tried. It couldn't make it past the third chapter. I wanted some of the historical characters fleshed out so I had someone to hang on to. An important story but the writing droned too much for me. I might try again another time.
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Siân Rees is a British author and historian. She has a degree in history from University of Oxford. She lives in Brighton and is an RLF Fellow at the University of Sussex. She is particularly interested in the social and maritime history of the 17th and 18th centuries.
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