A riveting addition to the history of the search for freedom in the Americas.

BLOOD ON THE RIVER

A CHRONICLE OF MUTINY AND FREEDOM ON THE WILD COAST

A microhistory of scholarly significance, this action-packed book enlarges understanding of the New World’s history in the era of international conflict on the eve of transformative Western revolutions.

Every historian hopes to stumble on records that alter understanding of the past. Through industry and luck, Kars, a historian of slavery, has done just that. Her discovery of never-used Dutch archives informs this tale of a previously unknown slave uprising on South America’s northern coast. Written in lively, detailed prose, the narrative offers fresh looks at slavery in the New World and, equally important, slaves’ efforts to free themselves from bondage. The “collective armed rebellion” along the Berbice River in today’s Guyana, then a Dutch colony, started in 1763. Although it eventually failed, the violent insurrection drew in native tribes, Spanish and Dutch forces from Europe, and colonists from neighboring settlements. The incident is historically significant because the slaves who took independence into their own hands controlled an entire colony for over a year—something unprecedented until Haitian slaves began freeing themselves in 1791 in a successful 13-year struggle. The novelty of this book is the author’s presentation of the rebellion’s records: an incredible 900 slave testimonies previously unknown and unused until Kars unearthed them. They contain the words and voices of the mutinous slaves, voices rarely captured with such fidelity and in such numbers in the archives of other insurrections. It’s these voices, and Kars’ skill in bringing them to life, that keeps the text from being a dry academic study. So, too, does the story’s classic tragic arc: dashes for freedom, alliances between slaves and Indigenous tribes, in-fighting and betrayals, heroic leaders, barbarities on all sides, and deflating defeat. Though the rebellion failed, the Berbice colony never recovered from the costs of defeating the uprising. It was a harbinger of things to come.

A riveting addition to the history of the search for freedom in the Americas.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62097-459-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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