Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast – Book


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By Marjoleine Kars

Winner of the 2021 Cundill History Prize

Winner of the 2021 Frederick Douglass Prize

‘A richly detailed account of a gripping human story’ Washington Post

‘[An] epic history … a sweeping, thoughtful narrative’ 
Los Angeles Times

On Sunday 27 February, 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 and their enslavers struck and parried for an entire year. In the end, the Dutch prevailed because of one advantage: their access to soldiers and supplies. Blood on the River is the explosive story of this little-known revolution, one that almost changed the face of the Americas.

Drawing on 900 interrogation transcripts collected by the Dutch when the Berbice rebellion finally collapsed, 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.

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.