The Diligent

A Voyage Through the Worlds Of The Slave Trade

Trade Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780465028726

USD: $20.99  /  CAD: $26.99

ON SALE: December 21st 2002

Genre: Nonfiction / Social Science / Slavery


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The slave trade is one of the best known yet least understood processes in our history. The popular image of traders in slave ships going to Africa and rounding up slaves as if they were cattle is not only historically inaccurate, it also disguises the fact that the slave trade was a highly organized Atlantic-wide system that required close collaboration at the highest levels of government in Europe, Africa, and the New World. Using the private journal of First Lieutenant Robert Durand, and supplementing it with a wealth of archival research, Yale historian Robert Harms re-creates in astonishing detail the voyage of the French slave ship The Diligent. We have histories of the slave trade, most recently Hugh Thomas’s massive and authoritative The Slave Trade, but The Diligent is something entirely different: a deep bore into the economic, political, and moral worldviews of the participants on all sides of the trade, complete with a vivid dramatis personae. Nobody who reads this book will ever look at the slave trade in the same way again.

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Reader Reviews


"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
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