In This Review

Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History)
Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History)
By David Eltis,David Richardson
Yale University Press, 2010, 336 pp
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For nearly 20 years, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database project has been diligently tabulating all the slave ship crossings of the Atlantic Ocean, from 1500 to 1900. So far, it has recorded some 34,934 documented slave voyages -- probably about 80 percent of the total during this period -- which carried 12 and a half million Africans to the New World. With 189 informative and handsome maps, Eltis and Richardson relay and interpret the information contained in this rich database, mixing in beautiful historical illustrations and key passages from relevant texts. An accessible narrative, meanwhile, expands on the information in the maps. A history that remains poorly understood, despite its impact on both Africa and the Americas, comes to life in these pages, which establish in painstaking detail where the slaves came from in Africa, where they ended up in the New World, and when their voyages actually took place. The book even tracks such details as the changing slave mortality rate onboard, the number of slave uprisings on the ships, and the locations where, after the United Kingdom outlawed slavery in 1807, the British navy intervened. This marvelous book will change how people think of the slave trade. It deserves every accolade it is likely to get.