Finalist, 2021 Cundill History Prize
2021 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Finalist
Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR
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 which 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.