Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture

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$30.00  $27.60
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.2 X 1.6 inches | 1.6 pounds

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About the Author

Sudhir Hazareesingh was born in Mauritius. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and has been a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Balliol College, Oxford, since 1990. He has written extensively about French intellectual and cultural history, and among his books are The Legend of Napoleon, In the Shadow of the General and How the French Think. He won the Prix du Mémorial d'Ajaccio and the Prix de la Fondation Napoléon for the first of these, a Prix d'Histoire du Sénat for the second, and the Grand Prix du Livre d'Idées for the third.


"Black Spartacus is a tour de force: by far the most complete, authoritative and persuasive biography of Toussaint that we are likely to have for a long time . . . An extraordinarily gripping read." --David A. Bell, The Guardian

[Hazareesingh's] way into the story is through Toussaint's military adventures and, more importantly, through his catlike politics . . . Lustrous pearls . . ., scattered throughout Black Spartacus, turn this detailed, blow-by-blow account of Toussaint's military exploits into a dazzling, complicated narrative. They add romance and family intrigue to a plot that is also dotted with Toussaint's own writing, which will be appreciated by those who have never heard his worldly, arrogant and eloquent voice . . . There are almost no stories that can compete with Toussaint's, as Hazareesingh's exciting narrative proves . . . Hazareesingh gives us a breathtaking picture of the decade of Toussaint's dream--a dream unlike any other, and one that must never be forgotten, because it still awaits its finale. --Amy Wilentz, Spectator

Remarkable . . . [Sudhir Hazareesingh] deftly tells the byzantine and fragmented history to paint perhaps the sharpest portrait yet of Louverture . . . The book also provides new and important insights into seminal events such as the initial insurrection of 1791 . . . Black Spartacus is a triumph. It takes a nearly impossibly complex history and weaves it into a compelling and accurate narrative that reads like fiction. --Ben Horowitz, Financial Times

Sudhir Hazareesingh's engrossing [Black Spartacus] tells the story of how the enigmatic, deeply religious boy from Bréda came to be one of the most celebrated, feared and consequential political leaders of his generation . . . Hazareesingh brings to the task a voracious appetite for original sources and a discerning ear for those which have the ring of truth. He also has a gift for tracing those threads that reveal a previously unrecognized pattern in the fabric of a life. --Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, The Wall Street Journal

Hazareesingh presents a deeply researched, energetic, and comprehensively reenvisioned study of the extraordinary life and still-growing influence of Haiti's liberator and founding father . . . From daring military maneuvers to innovations in governing, dignity in his tragic fall, and galvanizing impact as 'the first Black superhero of the modern age, ' here, vividly and invaluably, is Toussaint Louverture in full. --Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

With Black Spartacus, Sudhir Hazareesingh has produced the fourth - and best - biography of Toussaint Louverture since the bicentenary of Haitian independence ... The book deftly tackles the early stages of the slave uprising and gives one of the most convincing accounts yet of Toussaint's likely role in its opening moves. The use of non-traditional archives is particularly refreshing and allows Hazareesingh to frequently foreground the importance of Vodou to the revolutionaries. --Paul Clammer, History Today

Tracing the growth of Louverture from revolutionary leader to mythic figure, this engrossing read reveals and recovers the historic place both he and the country of Haiti deserve to occupy in the story of the Atlantic world's creation and re-creation. --Thomas J. Davis, Library Journal (starred review)

If anyone lived an epic life, it is [Louverture], and Hazareesingh captures it perfectly in his new book . . . This book is for absolutely anyone that loves history . . . Louverture's story will move you and make you think differently at the same time. --Jason Park, Medium

A thorough reconsideration of the legendary Haitian leader, whose deployment of republican ideals of racial equality were radical and transformative--and still resonate today . . . [Black Spartacus] closely examines the many contradictory accounts of Toussaint's dealings before and after [the start of the Haitian Revolution] . . . A knowledgeable biography that carefully considers the nuances of Toussaint's character and the legends that surround him. --Kirkus Reviews