THE GREAT WHITE LIE: Slavery, Emancipation and Changing Racial Attitudes by Jack Gratus

THE GREAT WHITE LIE: Slavery, Emancipation and Changing Racial Attitudes

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The title is more bark than bite -- this is a revisionist history of the English Abolitionist Movement on the premise that ""hero worship makes bad history."" William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect are indicted for too-close ties with West Indian plantation interests resident in Britain, and as unwitting precursors of the White Man's Burden, they receive the brunt of the attack, but aside from passing kudos for several pamphleteers and radicals, Gratus' pedestal stays empty. He's supportive of Eric Williams' thesis that the end of slavery as an institution can be mainly atttributed to the economic decline in the Islands rather than English conscience. Loose terms (i.e. ""West Indian interests"") and superficial treatment (of the indigenous African slave trade and contemporary Parliamentary politics) mar the usefulness of this fluent analysis which is more corrective than innovative. Based on original sources (if without a much needed secondary bibliography).

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1973
Publisher: Monthly Review Press