by Marjoleine Kars
The New Press
A breathtakingly original work of history that uncovers a massive enslaved persons’ revolt that almost changed the face of the Americas
On Sunday, February 27, 1763, thousands of slaves in the Dutch colony of Berbice—in present-day Guyana—launched a massive rebellion that came amazingly close to succeeding. Surrounded by jungle and savannah, the revolutionaries (many of them African-born) and Europeans struck and parried for an entire year. In the end, the Dutch prevailed because of one unique advantage—their ability to get soldiers and supplies from neighboring colonies and from Europe. Blood on the River is the explosive story of this little-known revolution, one that almost changed the face of the Americas.
Drawing on nine hundred interrogation transcripts collected by the Dutch when the Berbice rebellion finally collapsed, and which were subsequently buried in Dutch archives, historian Marjoleine Kars reconstructs an extraordinarily rich day-by-day account of this pivotal event. Blood on the River provides a rare in-depth look at the political vision of enslaved people at the dawn of the Age of Revolution and introduces us to a set of real characters, vividly drawn against the exotic tableau of a riverine world of plantations, rainforest, and Carib allies who controlled a vast South American hinterland.
An astonishing original work of history, Blood on the River will change our understanding of revolutions, slavery, and of the story of freedom in the New World.
"[A] masterpiece . . . Marjoleine Kars has unearthed a little-known rebellion in the Dutch colony of Berbice and rendered its story with insight, empathy, and wisdom. You'll find no easy platitudes herein. Instead, you'll find human beings in full relief, acting with courage, kindness, calculation, and mendacity in their quest for self-determination. Blood on the River is a story for the ages." --Elizabeth Fenn, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People
"One of the great slave revolts in modern history has at last found a gifted historian to tell its epic tale. Using a breathtaking archival discovery to make the Berbice rebels vivid flesh-and-blood actors, Marjoleine Kars deeply enriches the global scholarship on the history of slavery and resistance." --Marcus Rediker, author of The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom
About the Author:
Marjoleine Kars is an associate professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. A noted historian of slavery, she is the author of Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast (The New Press) and Breaking Loose Together. She lives in Washington, DC.