American Uprising by Daniel Rasmussen – Book Review

American Uprising by Daniel Rasmussen
Published by Harper Books, an imprint of Harper Collins

In 1811, in the relatively laid back and peaceful time between Christmas and Mardi Gras, a group of slaves in Louisiana rose up violently against their masters and turned their sights on the city of New Orleans. According to some sources, as many as 500 men may have been involved in the rebellion, which was headed by two men who had been raised in a marital environment in Africa, and yet the revolt is hardly mentioned in the history books, glossed over for the smaller slave uprisings of Nat Turner and John Brown. In “American Uprising,” Daniel Rasmussen both gives this event the attention it deserves, and explores the reasons that it has been largely disregarded in the story of American politics and slave relations.

Rasmussen has fabulous style for a writer of nonfiction. He is clear and concise – the entire book is under 300 pages – managing to support his assertions well, without getting nitpicky. In addition to all that, his prose is incredibly engaging, and he makes the most of his thrilling subject matter to keep the reader turning the pages, without giving way to sensationalism. The lead up to the revolt itself is almost nail-biting, engendering both intense sympathy for those rising up against enslavement and fear for the possible death toll. That being said, the story of why the history of this rebellion was de-politicized and suppressed was perhaps the most fascinating part of “American Uprising.” It was also the section that ran the greatest risk of being dull, but Rasmussen built on the interest he generated in the rebellion earlier in the book to make this less action-packed section equally compelling.

Highly recommended

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7 comments to American Uprising by Daniel Rasmussen – Book Review

  • This sounds like an interesting one – I especially like that it talks about how the history was treated afterwards. I find stuff like that fascinating. I’ll have to add it to my wishlist!

  • Agreed, I hadn’t heard of this revolt and the way it was de-politicized sounds fascinating. This is one I’ll have to check out!

  • Did you love the part about Robert F. Williams? Now that is some serious shin kicking. Rhapsody Jill knows of an entire book about him.

  • This is why I love non-fiction so much. Writers like this can just bring history alive…sure wish my history books would have been as engaging. This reminds me (I don’t know why) of Mayflower by Nathanial Philbrick. Couldn’t lay the book down. I need to read this one.

  • This sounds good! Must add it to the list so I don’t forget. :)

  • My interest this year in reading about the U.S. Civil War has also spawned an interest in the slavery and what happened to the freed slaves after the war. This one sounds like the perfect one to add.