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Book Review: The Slave Ship ‘A Human History’ by Marcus Rediker

by Suleman

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Thesis Statement
  • The Slave Ship: A Human History: A Review
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Conclusion
  • Work Cited


The paths of history are illumined by Colonial America, England and its glorious past. The annexed nations and the large monuments made of white marble and alabaster that sing a song of monumental creation, prosperity and majesty, glorify history with their wars. kings and queens, nobles and barons. However, some barbaric, infamous, horrific storeys of ruined society lie in the centre of colonial rule, all of which are crowned by the slave trade and horrific storeys of slavery. Marcus Rediker, a distinguished scholar and historian, sheds light on some of the most dark and scary streets in the history of the eighteenth century.

The Slave Ship: A Human History (The Slave Ship) shows the efforts of Marcus for more than thirty years, through separate maritime records, court documents, entries in countless journals and daily newspapers that contributed to a history lost and forgotten in a few tear-filled accounts and discoveries, and most notably an in-depth, in-depth account. This book is a book that goes beyond a chronicle’s mere peripheries and expectations and gives a context to the history of floating dungeons and preceding events of African American Culture today.

Book Review: The Slave Ship 'A Human History' by Marcus Rediker

Thesis Statement

This essay aims at analysing the whole book and the evidence provided in Marcus Rediker’s “The Slave Ship: A Human History” of the text.

The Slave Ship: A Human History: A Review

In the nineteenth century, Slavs were common phenomena in the plantation. But there arises a general question of how such slaves emerged in the west of the world. Rediker imports its readers to a suburb in this aspect, which also focuses on its westward mode of transport by slave boat.

As the slaves were captivated and taken along with the store, a thorough analysis was published in the form of an analysis of the vessel during the term from 1700 to 1808 which led to thorough investigations as well as a concrete thesis in the book “The Salve Ship: A Human History.” The materials used to construct the ship, its existence and features and the descriptions of sponsors, captains and cabin crews of the ship are all highly systematically encapped into the book’s pages, The Slave Story: A Human History (The History of Slaves). A rather detailed and clear expression of the book is the relation of Slave people to captains and teams, human cargo and the relation between the slave trade and the socio-economic and socio-cultural paradigm of the West, which is quite complex in nature. Rediker states, “how the slave ship performed for the world’s labour market as a product generating generator, a ‘slave'” (Rediker 338).

The book is divided into 10 chapters, with a very ornate Introduction and an Epilogue named, ‘Endless Passage’. The chapters appear with the following names, Living, Dead, and Terror in Slave Trade, The Slave Ship Evolution, African Middle Way Routes, The Slave Ship’s Evolution, The Slavs Ship Evolution, ‘Life, Death and Terror in the Slave Trades,’ Olaudah Equiano: Stonishment and Terror,’ ‘James Field Stan, and Floating Dungeon’s, ‘John Newton and the Peaceful Kingdom,’ The Captain’s Equiano, ‘The Sailors’ (Rediker 1-50). The book is enlightening, engrossing and engaging but the most scintillating effect which the book brings on the comprehension of human mind regarding slave system is the breakdown of many conventional ideas related to the slave system since ages. Along with that, the book is not only a document of the belief and story of those innumerable lives which got lost in the dark hours and sand of time through the strong research of years, which would have remained suppressed and ignored otherwise; it is the economical perspective inherent in the book. Rather, the book is a detailed analysis of the economical changes and, most importantly, the socio-economic changes, the transportation of the slaves brought in nineteenth century colonial America and Britain.


The book is coherent and compact in its approach and scope. The style of the book is very gripping and the details appear in a very gruesome way which builds a panorama of the life and struggle of the slaves. Its narrative is so strong that it recreates the era and almost makes the readers re-live them. The anatomy of the book is perfect and the division complete with a very brief Introduction and a strong Epilogue. The book exemplifies Rediker’s strong and dedicated research work for a long period. Never before, the contentions presented in the book, “The Slave Ship: A Human History”, the tale of slave resistance was presented at an intensified and greater extent of the level depicted in the book.


Ideally, the book is not for all of the general readers. The jargons and the technicality involved in the projection of the slave history are not a very lucid factor appealing for the general readers. Even for the scholars and students, the book is not very easy to grapple. At places, the book is repulsive, extremely gruesome and the lost of macro-economic perspective associated with effect of the slave trade on global economy of the time deviates the attention of the readers from the basic subject.


“The Slave Ship: A Human Past” is not a tale of a single moment in history or a sequence of events. It speaks of mankind, its vices and violent mindsets that reduce civilization’s glory. Also a given economic activity and process which certainly find a strong mention in the book are the fundamental component of any step, repulsion or aggression missing in most of the texts narrating the course of human history. The book “The Slave Ship: A Human History”, for these reasons, does not deal with any particular segment of people or time. Its approach makes it universal and timeless.

Work Cited
  • Rediker, Marcus. The Slave Ship: A Human History. United Kingdom: Penguin Books, 2008. Print.

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