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Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of…

by John Gabriel Stedman

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When John Gabriel Stedman's Narrative of Five Years Expedition was first published in 1796-a bowdlerized edition "full of lies and nonsense"-Stedman claimed to have burned two thousand copies. It nevertheless became an immediate popular success. A first-hand account of an eighteenth-century slave society, including graphic accounts of the worlds of both masters and slaves, it also contained vivid descriptions of exotic plants and animals, of military campaigns, and of romantic adventures. Illustrated by William Blake, Francesco Bartolozzi, and others, Stedman's work was quickly translated into a half-dozen languages and was eventually published in over twenty-five different editions. The Prices' acclaimed critical edition is based on Stedman's original, handwritten manuscript, which offers a portrait at considerable variance with the 1796 classic. The unexpurgated text, presented here with extensive notes and commentary, constitutes one of the richest and most evocative accounts ever written of a flourishing slave society. The Prices restore early omissions involving Stedman's horror at the Dutch planters' use of casual torture to discipline their slaves; his love and admiration for Joanna, his mulatto mistress; his strong belief in racial equality; and his outrage that "in 20 Years two millions of People are murdered to Provide us with Coffee & Sugar." Freed from its original publisher's censorship, Stedman's Narrative stands as one of the strongest indictments ever to appear against New World slavery.… (more)

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