The Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin

The Empire of Necessity

From the acclaimed author of Fordlandia, the story of a remarkable slave rebellion that illuminates America’s struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of Revolution and beyond.One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren’t. Having earlier seized control of the v...

Details The Empire of Necessity

TitleThe Empire of Necessity
Release DateJan 14th, 2014
PublisherMetropolitan Books
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History, Historical, Race

Reviews The Empire of Necessity

  • Anne
    I was lucky to receive this book from a Goodreads giveaway. The importance of this book is really not clear in the description on the book's cover. This is the history of a slave rebellion in the South Pacific that is thwarted by a New England ship Captain, Amasa Delano. However, this book is so much more than the story of that rebellion. Mr. Grandin uses that story as a springboard to illustrate and explore the history of freedom and slavery in ...
  • Cynthia
    Benito Cereno was a 19th century sea captain. “Benito Cereno” is also a novelette that was written by Herman Melville Melville’s story was based on a true life slaver, Cereno, and a slave uprising that Melville’s relative, another sea captain named Amasa Delano, happens upon in the Pacific in 1805. Slave uprisings happened but were fairly unusual but on Cereno’s ship, the Tryal, the Muslim slaves decide to murder their captors and requi...
  • Fred
    Among the finest, most compelling works I've ever read on Latin America, on slavery, and on Melville. Also a complement or prequel to another great recent work on slavery, Walter Johnson's 'River of Dark Dreams.'
  • Richard
    Frankly, much about this book was really uncomfortable to read. And yet paradoxically, I finished its almost 300 pages (including reading most of its many footnotes) in a very few days. The book's surface narrative follows the seafaring peregrinations of New Englander Amasa Delano, focusing-in on his 1805 encounter with a slave rebellion on the ship Tryal off the coast of Chile. The undercurrents of the book were about the enslavement of one race...
  • Justin
    I'll be reviewing this for the Historical Novel Review. Until then, I can say that this was a powerful book. It will be one to reread to fully appreciate its depths. Highly recommended.
  • Joshua Polk
    An excellent book about the South American slave trade. I recommend it for lovers of history, literature, and excellent writing.
  • Susan (aka Just My Op)
    I expected this book to have more information earlier in the book about the slave rebellion it is supposed to be about. Instead, I found myself reading more about slavery in general, especially in South America. I did find parts of it interesting, and learned more about the economic impact of slavery on New England even while slavery there was not common, and about slavery before the southern US was as heavily mired in it as it would become.Howev...
  • Kerim
    One of the best popular history books I've ever read. It is truly masterful how he weaves together so many elements into a truly gripping story that never fails to hold the reader's attention. It is also an important book, decentering the history of slavery by showing the links between the United States and Latin America, as well as for how it shows the roots of modernity in the slave trade.
  • Tony Lindsay
    very informative, painful descriptions, but needed scholarship.
  • Między sklejonymi kartkami
    Każdy, kto ma odrobinę oleju w głowie, doskonale rozumie, jak niesprawiedliwe oraz niemiarodajne są średnie ocen na książkowych portalach, i na pewno nie polega na nich przy doborze własnych lektur. Ciekawi mnie jednak, czy istnieje ktoś, komu na widok wyjątkowo niskiej noty nie zapaliłaby się w głowie czerwona lampka. Nawet jeśli dana pozycja wydawałaby mi się całkiem przyzwoita i wyjątkowo trafiałaby w jego tematyczne gusta. ...
  • Cathy
    I was interested in the book because it is about the real events that inspired Herman Melville's "Benito Cereno." The story goes that slaves on a slave ship rebelled, killed much of the crew, and were trying to get back to Africa when they came in sight of an American ship hunting seals. The captain of that ship saw the run-down state of the slaver, and knowing nothing else about it, brought food and water and boarded it. The slaves came up with ...
  • Jennifer
    The Empire of Necessity is an exhaustive, meticulously documented, and fascinating look at the role of the slave trade in the economic and social development of the Americas. Grandin's focus is the real slave uprising and elaborate maritime deception that inspired Melville's novella Benito Cereno. But the book goes far beyond simply recounting this highly charged event: in the process of exploring the backgrounds of the people involved (including...
  • Naum
    Fascinating, gripping in-depth exploration of the players and context of the 1805 event where Captain Amasa Delano (FDR ancestor) & ship encounter a Spanish ship, off the coast of S. America, whose slaves mutinied and enacted a ruse that captain Cerreno was still in charge, and not them actually calling the shots. The incident was immortalized in a Herman Melville (*Moby Dick* author) novella, though it takes some liberties with Delano's memoir r...
  • Eric McLean
    I really enjoyed the intertwining of the history and literature. Grandin retells the story of a slave revolt that was later retold in a work of "fiction" by Herman Melville. And the result is a mix of beautiful and revolting. There are some oddities about this book and it does wander all over the place, from a history of slavery to sealing to Charles Darwin. But it all comes together as part of the story, the backdrop, for this particular story.I...
  • Mara
    I was very excited to win this book through the First Reads program, as the provided description made it sound right up my alley--unfortunately, Grandin's writing style wasn't to my taste. While it's obvious that he did massive amounts of research for this book, and I did appreciate the depth of his knowledge and expertise, I wanted a more sharply focused narrative instead of so many rambling passages about topics only tangentially related to his...
  • Bo Commander
    I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of this book, and enjoyed it thoroughly. While the book provides some good backstory of all the major and minor role players in the Tryal debacle, I felt the best part of this book was the insights into the times in which the event occurred including slavery and literary works of the period. Special attention is placed on Melville and his Benito Cereno, which is based on the root occurrence of th...
  • Michael Berman
    A truly fascinating book that puts slavery in a global context. Using a slave rebellion on a ship off the coast of Chile as the central event, the author shows how the economic institution of slavery extended its tendrils throughout the world, making virtually anyone participating in any marketplace complicit in the evils of slavery. Sobering and fascinating, there are some obvious parallels to everyone's complicity in climate change (he writes s...
  • Franz
    This is a large book. Not in its length as much as in its complexity, thematic ambition, and narrative richness. Grandin uses Herman Melville’s Benito Cerreno as his inspiration and North Star to investigate the complicated meaning of slavery, liberty, and race in the New World. Melvill’s novella is based on the memoirs of a Yankee captain, Amasa Delano. Melville describes an incident in 1804. It occurred in the South Pacific off an island ne...
  • Nathan Albright
    At first I thought this was going to be a large-scale treatment of the issue of slavery and freedom in the New World [1], a massive subject given the amount of material that would require. Instead, this is a book whose ambition lies in a different course, an accomplished and thought-provoking work of revisionist history that starts with a small incident and uncovers its repercussions and complications several steps back and forward, seeking to de...
  • Vincent Tsao
    The book is based on a single event that lasted for a day, a slave revolt on a ship off the coast of Chile in 1805. We follow the journeys of the key figures that led to their meeting. And throughout the journeys, the author skillfully elaborates on the historical background, creating a wide spider web of commitments, motives, and circumstances that address the weighty themes of slavery and excessive capitalism. Most of what we know about the eve...
  • Jim Robles
    There is a great read and incredibly rich in historical detail. It illustrates very well how we delude ourselves to feel good about who we are, and provide religious justification, even as we do flagitious things to other human beings. The enormity (no: that does not mean immenseness) of the slave trade is difficult to comprehend.During the "Age of Freedom," "the act effectively define d freedom as the freedom of white men to enslave black men, w...
  • Johnny Martin
    If you love obscure history (and the body of relevant history for you includes only the northern hemisphere's account of the 17th and 19th c.), you will love this book. It traces slavery as a global phenomenon, and specifically its occurrence in Spain. Those familiar with North American chattel slavery will be surprised by what they find. Additionally fascinating is its discussion of the religious factors in the slave trade. Muslims among slaves ...
  • Mark
    The complexities and contradictions of slavery during the waning years of that institution are entwined in the tribulations of Captain Amasa Delano and the Tryal, a doomed slaver that he happened upon off the coast of Chile in 1805. Mercantilism trumps the natural law of freedom with just about everyone owning slaves until revolutions and civil wars decide enough is enough. Well researched and excellently written, The Empire of Necessity places s...
  • Edward Sullivan
    The true story that is the basis of Herman Melville's novella Benito Cereno. A compelling, insightful look into the workings of the South American slave trade. Many digressions but most are quite fascinating.
  • Debbie
    Fascinating story, and as Grandin draws the camera back, the picture of European settlement in the Americas becomes even more disheartening, relying in all ways on the genocide of the natives and chattel slavery of Africans.
  • Bradley Kuper-Smith
    An honest evaluation of 17th and 18th century global commerce
  • Dpdwyer
    The true story behind Herman Melville's Benito Cereno, where slaves take over a slave ship.
  • Amber Sparks
    Pretty interesting... a story a never heard about, but the book mainly seemed to be more about Melville's inspiration he got from the story.
  • Jennifer Swapp
    "Seeking to Conquer a larger liberty, man but extends the empire of necessity." Author uknown. Used as epigraph to Herman Melville's "The Bell Tower".This book tells the story of man who thought he was progressive, "who thought he was free- free from the past, from the passions that soaked human history, free from vices; reason is his master. And of course, free from slavery itself, from relations of bondage and exploitation"P. 89 This man, in an...