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Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution
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Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas began in 1791 when thousands of brutally exploited slaves rose up against their masters on Saint-Domingue, the most profitable colony in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Within a few years, the slave insurgents forced the French administrators of the colony to emancipate them, a decision ratified by revol ...more
Paperback, 357 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press (first published 2004)
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Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: early-modern, history
A wonderfully-told history of a fascinating story. I especially enjoyed Dubois's chapter on the attempts, largely led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, to transition Saint-Domingue from a colony built on slavery to one built on a free labor. Lots of complexities and grey areas.

The Haitian Revolution covers so many key aspects of global history at this point in time. I feel like it ought to be more widely discussed and studied.
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Haitian Revolution is extremely complex, and I have never fully understood it. Why was Toussaint Louverture fighting with the Spanish for a while before flipping back to the French? What were the British doing there? Where did Dessalines come from, and how did he get to be in charge? Why did Napoleon seem to back Toussaint, only to turn on him and send an army to reimpose slavery in St. Domingue? I had heard bits and pieces from around the edges, which basically always simplify it into a big ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Choice quote from this fantastic book:
“The impact of the Haitian Revolution was enormous. As a unique example of successful black revolution, it became a crucial part of the political, philosophical, and cultural currenst of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By creating a society in which all people, of all colors, were granted freedom and citizenship, the Haitian Revolution forever transformed the world. It was a central part of the destruction of slavery in the Americas, and therefore a
Daniel Polansky
A solidly written history of a fascinating period of human history about which I knew relatively little and now want to learn more. There’s nothing particularly striking about the style but it’s a competent overview of a series of extraordinary events. Definitely made me want to pick up something more substantial on the subject.
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Hispaniola was the first island in the New World discovered by Columbus; Spanish settlers soon slaughtered all the indigenous inhabitants, who called the island Ayiti, and imported Africans to be their slaves instead. After Louis XIV of France won a war with Spain and her allies, Spain ceded the western half of the island to France. In the 18th century the half-island became the most profitable colony in the New World, called Saint-Domingue, producing as much sugar as Cuba, Jamaica and Brazil co ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This book achieves exactly what its subtitle says: It outlines the "True Story of the Haitian Revolution" with just enough information about France's colonization of Hispaniola as is absolutely needed to understand the events that transpired between 1791 and 1804 and only a few broad comments about the impact the slave revolt and eventual revolution would have on the international community for the duration of the nineteenth century. Dubois aims, apparently, to create a popular history of the re ...more
 Imani ♥ ☮
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, nonfic
For me, this book was a decent foray into the Haitian Revolution and its beginnings. I appreciated that it de-centered the role of Louverture and set the Revolution and subsequent emancipation within a larger historical context and framework. I was not a fan of the style of writing, however, and I'm not sure if it should be considered a definitive work.
Megan Weiss
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-school
Read this for my weekly paper and it was actually fairly interesting and horrifically eye opening. This was such an important time in history and I’d never learned about it before and that’s a tragedy. The Haitian Revolution was a major turning point in the historical record and in the fight for equal human rights and freedoms for those of all races and colors.
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of popular history: this book is readable and engaging.

As a historian: Dubois' use of sources is masterful and his prose is engaging. I'm using this in a course and it remains to be seen how students will respond. However, I LOVED this book!

Highly recommend.
Roy White
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not a pretty story, but a fascinating and important one.
David Bates
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Laurent DuBois’s Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution provides a careful synthesis detailing the causes, personalities and events of the Haitian Revolution. Unfolding his story, DuBois tells us that French Saint Domingue was the “most brilliant” of the colonies of the Caribbean, a jewel of the shrunken empire which remained to France after the peace of 1763. Its rich soil supported the most productive sugar cane plantations in the Americas, where European and mixed race ...more
Zachary Bennett
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a delightful read, and a great summary of a very complicated event. The hardest part of telling the narrative of the HR is walking a fine line from previous historiography: the racist white interpretation that ignored it, the interpretation that worshipped Touissant Louveture, and the interpretations which emphasized the importance of actors from above/below.

I think part of the reason many people don't know about the Haitian Revolution is because the event is so complicated: there are
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
By all rights, the slave revolt in Haiti, which defeated Napoleon's army, should be given greater moral and political status than the American Revolution. But, because of racism, this astounding history has been buried in a potter's field. "Avengers of the New World," with its many, many lessons for the masses who still struggle for freedom, is a must read. You simply cannot understand the French or American Revolutions without "following the money." The wealth that built Europe and the United S ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
The only sucessful slave revolt in history has been kept a secret from most of us. Shortly after beginning the reading, I had my forehead slapping moment; it had never occurred to me that this revolution took place during the years that France, the colonial nation, was being torn apart by its own revolution. Several factions were matched against each other & frequently switched loyalties in this uprising, white plantation owners, free blacks, slaves, escaped slaves called maroons, soldiers & ...more
James Wethington
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction
Intriguing book over the Haitian Revolution. It serves as a reminder to me of how far individuals will go in order to gain their freedom, even if that includes dying for it, for over a decade. This book is intense and Dubois does not hold back on the description of atrocities occurring in Haiti during the revolution. Some may experience "information overload" but you will walk away with a different perspective about Haiti.

As a side note, the Haitian Revolution was the only slave insurrection to
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Read it for class. It was a little bit of a slow burning book, using the intertwining stories of the three factors of whites, free colored people and slaves to weave a commonality goal of influencing the island's main social and economic system. (Political is in there but not until later in the book). The smoke of revolution begins in August 1791, and metaphorically & physically burns in the northern provinces. Just when it seems that the revolution fire has achieved its goals or has burned ...more
جليس  الكتاب
if the book was written in bullet forms and summary at end of each chapter it would have been better to follow the sequence. so many names and events. there is an excellent summary of the Haitian revolution at end of all souls rising (the novel). All praise for the French revolution, but in reality that is not true! After abolishing slavery, Napoleon reinstituted slavery? The revolution's mottos all gone when interests matter. Can not be read in one setting! A heavy reading.
Josh Gering
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Haitian Revolution puts so many other historical events into context, and is pivotal to global events that followed. This is a great book for understanding the complexities and different stages of the revolution. Absolutely fascinating!
Craig Huddleston
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable and informative read. Dubois writes in a way that keeps your attention. My only complaint is that certain chapters drag on.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great history book! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a history of the Haitian Revolution.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Whoops, read this freshman year and forgot to add it! A good one.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Useful overview of the Haitian Revolution
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brain Food: Cesar Salad
Scandal Level: historical accounts of rape
Violence: historical accounts of slavery
Must be ___ old to read: 16 and interested in academic history
Read if you liked: Amazing Grace or Armistad
Re-readability: One and Done, unless you are writing a paper
I was assigned to read this for my History 510 class. I admit to knowing very little about the Haiti, let alone its revolution, before reading this book. It is heartbreaking and inspiring. I came away very aware of my ow
Vasil Kolev
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
It was nice and good to read, but seems to lack good sources, and it feels like there are gaps in what's explained. It also made me want to look into the rest of the history of Haiti.
Purple Iris
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-politics
more like 3.5, but I'm feeling generous. Also, I'm probably not the target audience in that some of the details just seemed unnecessary to me, but I'm thinking it's probably important for the historians.

This book was really a fascinating read. I started reading it at the same time as Ti dife boule sou istwa Ayiti and Dubois helped me better understand certain aspects of the Revolution I was still confused about after reading Trouillot.

I know there are many novels about the Revolution, some bet
Wesley  Gerrard
Saint Domingue was the Western French-owned side of Hispaniola. French colonists built it up into a wealthy imperial source of plantation economy produce, founded on the settlement of African slaves, products of the Triangular Slave Trade across the Atlantic. The hills and plains were dotted with sugar plantations and vast amounts of coffee and indigo were also produced. White settlers occupied only 10% of the island's population, however, and as free people of colour (gens du couleur) became mo ...more
Ronald Jones
Jan 21, 2016 marked it as to-read
In 1791, enslaved Africans revolted against the tyranny of bondage in the French colony of Saint Domingue. The revolt exploded into full fledge war, where the dividing line was not always drawn between black and white. Laurent Dubois' Avengers of the New World chronicles this epic conflict, providing a detailed analysis of the events leading up to the war. Toussaint Louverture, the figure most associated with what would be known as the Haitian Revolution, is a late arrival in this account. There ...more
Jackson Cyril
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The Haitian Revolution remains perhaps the most understudied of all earth-shattering events. How a few newly-freed slaves commanded by free blacks, were able to defend their island against the combined forces of Britain, Spain and Napoleonic France remains one of the great stories in history; the figure of Toussaint remains one of the most heroic to be found in the annals of history ;the post-revolutionary history of Haiti, especially after Dessalines' assassination in 1806 (?) remains one of th ...more
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, Dubois tells the background and story of the Haitian revolution with great detail. This revolution is incredibly complex, with many moving parts and characters. It's cause and effect is multi-dimensional, and it can be a complicated revolution to teach. Dubois makes the revolution easy to understand, and places it in an Atlantic context, which is greatly appreciated. I would say that this is probably the best book on the Haitian Revolution that I've read to date.
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
This is arguably the most important tale told in the history of America. And he does it magnificently. Yes, Monsieur Dubois is an academic, and this is - and quite rightly - excellently researched. But he is also an outstanding storyteller, and the reason people gush about this is because he gets on and tells his tale. The moral doesn't need hammering home.
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Laurent Dubois (PhD. University of Michigan) is associate professor of history at Michigan State University. His book A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804 won the American Historical Association Prize in Atlantic History and the John Edwin Fagg Award. He is also the author of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution, which ...more
“By creating a society in which all people, of all colors, were granted freedom and citizenship, the Haitian Revolution forever transformed the world. It was a central part of the destruction of slavery in the Americas, and therefore a crucial moment in the history of democracy, one that laid the foundation for the continuing struggles for human rights everywhere. In this sense we are all descendents of the Haitain Revolution, and responsible to these ancestors.” 5 likes
“drawn from the African idiom, their profession, or color." (The family of Julien Raimond complied grudgingly by switching from the "Raymond" of their French father to "Raimond.") A 1779 regulation made it illegal for free people of color to "affect the dress, hairstyles, style, or bearing of whites," and some local ordinances forbade them to ride in carriages or to own certain home furnishings. By the time of the Revolution free-coloreds were subjected to a variety of laws that discriminated against them solely on the basis of race.4” 0 likes
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