New Book—“Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions”


University of Chicago Press recently published a new biography Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions (2017) by Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg. Alyssa Sepinwall (California State University San Marcos) writes: “This exciting new biography of Toussaint Louverture seeks to reclaim him from conservative revisionist interpretations. Inspired by C.L.R. James and informed by the latest research, Forsdick and Hogsbjerg deliver a spirited, nuanced profile of this great revolutionary leader.  The book provides a fascinating analysis of the range of reactions to Toussaint, from Wordsworth in 1802 to contemporary comic books and rap.”

Description (University of Chicago Press): “In overthrowing me, you have done no more than cut down the trunk of the tree of the black liberty in St. Domingue—it will spring back from the roots, for they are numerous and deep.”

These are Toussaint Louverture’s last words before being taken to prison in France. Heroic leader of the only successful slave revolt in history, Louverture is one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters who ever lived. Born into slavery on a Caribbean plantation, he was able to break from his bondage to lead an army of freed African slaves to victory against the professional armies of France, Spain, and Britain in the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804.

In this lively narrative biography, Louverture’s fascinating life is explored through the prism of his radical politics. Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg champion the “black Robespierre,” whose revolutionary legacy has inspired people and movements in the two centuries since his death. For anyone interested in the roots of modern resistance movements and black political radicalism, Louverture’s extraordinary life provides the perfect groundwork.

Charles Forsdick is the James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. He is author of Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity and Travel in Twentieth-Century French and Francophone Cultures and co-editor of The Black Jacobins Reader.

Christian Høgsbjerg is a historian at Leeds University Centre for African Studies. He is author of C.L.R. James in Imperial Britain, editor of James’s 1934 play, Toussaint Louverture, and co-editor of The Black Jacobins Reader.

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