Haiti: The Black Jacobins

CLR James’ The Black Jacobins, first published in 1938, was a forbidden book in South Africa until the recent dismantling of apartheid. It’s not hard to see why.

Scott McLemmee, “CLR James: A Biographical Introduction,” American Visions (April/May 1996)

First of all, James cast doubt on the assumption that the revolution would take place first in Europe, in the advanced capitalist countries, and that this would act as a model and a catalyst for the later upheavals in the underdeveloped world. Secondly, there were clear indications that the lack of specially-trained leaders, a vanguard, did not hold back the movement of the San Domingo revolution.

Anna Grimshaw, CLR James: A Revolutionary Vision for the Twentieth Century (April 1991)

An extraordinary synthesis of novelistic narrative and factual reconstruction … The Black Jacobins is a book that helped transform both the writing of history and history itself. Three decades before historians such as Christopher Hill, Eric Hobsbawm and EP Thompson began producing ‘history from below’, James told of how the slaves of Haiti had not simply been passive victims of their oppression but active agents in their own emancipation. And in telling that story, he created a work that was to become indispensable to a new generation of Toussaint L’Ouvertures that, over the next three decades, helped lead the anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Kenan Malik, Review of The Black Jacobins (17 August 2010)

Tranquility to-day is either innate (the philistine) or to be acquired only by a deliberate doping of the personality. It was in the stillness of a seaside suburb that could be heard most clearly and insistently the bombing of Franco’s heavy artillery, the rattle of Stalin’s firing squads and the fierce shrill turmoil of the revolutionary movement striving for clarity and influence. Such is our age and this book is of it, with something of the fever and the fret. Nor does the writer regret it. The book is the history of a revolution and written under different circumstances it would have been a different but not necessarily a better book.

CLR James, “Preface to the first edition,” The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (Secker & Warburg, 1938)

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24 Comments

  1. Posted May 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    CLR James, Haiti and The Black Jacobins: http://bit.ly/fK0slN cc @alyssa011968 #haiti

  2. Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:40 am | Permalink

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  3. Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

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  4. Posted June 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

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  5. Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

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  6. Posted June 26, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Almost done rdng "The Black Jacobins" A must read book. @public_archive has reviews and link to book online http://t.co/Bluq9to #Haiti

  7. Posted July 14, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    @public_archive has three excellent articles about Haiti: The Black Jacobins and The Black Jacobins Online http://t.co/FMSAZb7

  8. Posted July 14, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    “@alyssa011968: @public_archive has 3 excellent articles about Haiti: The Black Jacobins & The Black Jacobins Online http://t.co/53RY19O”

  9. Posted July 26, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

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  10. Posted August 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

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  11. Posted August 22, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

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  12. Posted August 23, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

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  13. Posted September 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

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  14. Posted September 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    @public_archive has excellent articles about The Black Jacobins and link to book Online http://t.co/JRt31I1X #Haiti

  15. Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

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  16. Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    "The writer has sought not only to analyse…" C.L.R. James- See @public_archive articles & link 2 book Online http://t.co/JRt31I1X #Haiti

  17. Posted October 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

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  18. Posted December 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

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  19. Posted January 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

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  20. Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

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  21. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

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  22. Posted April 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

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  23. The Public Archive
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Our apologies. The link to James is now dead.

  24. Posted October 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    @public_archive has three excellent articles about Haiti: The Black Jacobins http://t.co/eN6gUjpb

6 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by A Nzingha Rahni . A Nzingha Rahni said: RT @public_archive: Haiti: The Black Jacobins: http://bit.ly/fK0slN [New post on The Public Archive] #haiti #archives [...]

  2. By Poumatica « Poumista on January 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

    [...] *CLR James: Haiti: The Black Jacobins [...]

  3. By Reading Haiti on May 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

    [...] the 1791 revolt. Jeremy D. Popkin, like many others, implicitly builds on the path-breaking work of CLR James in You are all Free: The Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery (Cambridge). Millery [...]

  4. Kramer auto Pingback[...] Archive has three excellent articles about Haiti: The Black Jacobins and The Black Jacobins [...]

  5. By Radical Black Reading/Reading Haiti, 2012 on December 30, 2012 at 12:32 am

    [...] most famous account of the Haitian Revolution is, of course, CLR James’s 1938 history The Black Jacobins. But before he composed his dramatic history of revolution, James rendered the revolution as [...]

  6. [...] was available to me then – C.L.R. James, David Geggus, and Thomas Ott. Even though I had read The Black Jacobins as a supplementary text on the CXC syllabus while studying for that exam, it wasn’t until the [...]

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