Reading time: 2 minutes

Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life by Philippe Girard

The definitive biography of the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture, leader of the only successful slave revolt in world history

Toussaint Louverture’s life was one of hardship, triumph, and contradiction. Born into bondage in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), the richest colony in the Western Hemisphere, he witnessed first-hand the torture of the enslaved population. Yet he managed to secure his freedom and establish himself as a small-scale planter. He even purchased slaves of his own.

In Toussaint Louverture, Philippe Girard reveals the dramatic story of how Louverture transformed himself from lowly freedman to revolutionary hero. In 1791, the unassuming Louverture masterminded the only successful slave revolt in history. By 1801, he was general and governor of Saint-Domingue, and an international statesman who forged treaties with Britain, France, Spain, and the United States-empires that feared the effect his example would have on their slave regimes. Louveture’s ascendency was short-lived, however. In 1802, he was exiled to France, dying soon after as one of the most famous men in the world, variously feared and celebrated as the “Black Napoleon.”

As Girard shows, in life Louverture was not an idealist, but an ambitious pragmatist. He strove not only for abolition and independence, but to build Saint-Domingue’s economic might and elevate his own social standing. He helped free Saint-Domingue’s slaves yet immediately restricted their rights in the interests of protecting the island’s sugar production. He warded off French invasions but embraced the cultural model of the French gentility.

In death, Louverture quickly passed into legend, his memory inspiring abolitionist, black nationalist, and anti-colonialist movements well into the 20th century. Deeply researched and bracingly original, Toussaint Louverture is the definitive biography of one of the most influential people of his era, or any other.

Toussaint Louverture Philippe Girard book cover

” The book is superb… [a] sophisticated and anti-mythological biography.”

The New York Times

“[A] meticulously researched biography… The reality that Girard teases out is far more interesting, and in many respects more impressive, than the myth. Toussaint emerges as a man of extraordinary natural gifts, a shrewd negotiator, a careful temporiser when the moment didn’t yet seem to serve his needs, and one in whom courage and caution were evenly mixed.”

The Herald

“[An] excellent biography… Girard writes thoughtfully about the various contradictions of Louverture’s life.”

New Yorker

“For nearly 80 years no scholar has written an English-language biography of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture… [he] is a unique figure in the modern era, and yet he has had some trouble getting due credit. Philippe Girard, a professor of history at Louisiana’s McNeese State University, steps into the gap.”

New Republic

 “Girard’s intelligent and graceful work offers a detailed account of Louverture’s experiences and achievements, as well as a laudable overview of the revolution he helped create and sustain.”

Publishers Weekly
An author talk with Philippe Girard via Bridgeport Public Library, CT

“Philippe Girard’s Toussaint Louverture is an unusually compelling combination of painstaking research using original archival sources, with a mastery of riveting storytelling. Girard’s depiction of the life of perhaps the most famous revolutionary in the history of slavery is refreshingly original, and fearless, as it draws a portrait of the complex life of its subject without regard for conventional interpretations and political correctness. This book is destined to be debated, just as it is destined to be hailed as a major work of biography.” 

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

“An interesting biography… well worth the read.” 

San Francisco Book Review

“An ode to the passionate commander of the Haitian revolution, arguably the most successful slave revolt in human history.”

Vanity Fair

“Whereas most Louverture biographers have adopted extreme interpretations, Philippe Girard provides a balanced portrait, sympathetic but unsentimental. It draws astutely on the wealth of recent Haitian Revolution research, to which he has significantly contributed, and is set in a fluently written, highly accessible narrative.”

David Geggus, Professor, University of Florida, and author of Haitian Revolutionary Studies

“A compelling look at an extraordinary historical figure.”

Library Journal

Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life – Book

$44

By Philippe Girard The definitive biography of the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture, leader of the only successful slave revolt in world history Toussaint Louverture’s life was one of hardship, triumph, and contradiction. Born into bondage in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), the richest colony in the Western Hemisphere, he witnessed first-hand the torture of the enslaved population.…

Only 3 left in stock

SKU: 9780465094134
Category:
Tags: , , ,

Articles you may also like

Ruin Ridge – Podcast

During the 1st Battle of El Alamein the 9th Australian Division was tasked with the capture of Ruin Ridge. Despite heavy fighting during the opening stages they achieved some of their objectives, but their successes obliged General Rommel to divert large numbers of troops to contain the Australian advance. The fighting then became desperate, leading to heavy casualties and the near decimation of one battalion.

Read More

The Chungking Legation: Australia’s first diplomatic mission to China, as soon to be wartime allies

Reading time: 6 minutes
Gough Whitlam’s visit to China in 1971 is an iconic moment in the history of Australia-China relations. As prime minister, he officially recognised the People’s Republic of China the following year, heralding a new era of engagement with China.
But Whitlam’s visit overshadows an earlier and equally significant moment in Australia’s relationship with China.
On October 28 1941, Australia opened its first diplomatic mission in China, a legation in the wartime capital of Chungking (Chongqing) in central Szechwan (Sichuan) province.

Read More
Copyright Info

The text of this article was commissioned by History Guild as part of our work to improve historical literacy. If you would like to reproduce it please get in touch via this form.

Tell me about New Quizzes and Articles

Get your weekly fill of History Articles and Quizzes

We won't share your contact details with anyone.