Book Review: The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian War of Independence, 1801-1804


by Philippe R. Girard

Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2011. Pp. xii, 444 456. Illus., maps, tables, notes., biblio, index. $45.00. ISBN: 0817317325

Haitian specialist Prof. Girard (McNeese State) gives us perhaps the best comprehensive treatment of that nation’s War for Independence. 

Despite the rather hyperbolic title (Boney was never in Haiti, though he likely would have lost anyway), this is a a fine treatment of a complex subject.  Girard manages to do an excellent job of writing a readable account of the conflict.  He manages to weave together the intricate racial, economic, political, diplomatic, and, of course, military aspects of the Haitian struggle against French efforts to re-establish colonial rule over the country, as well as the interplay of personalities, dominated by that of Toussaint Louverture in particular.  In the process, Girard helps throw light not only on events in Haiti and France, but also on the international implications and involvement in the revolution.  He also helps explain how these events continue to have an enormous impact on Haiti and Haitian society down to the present. 

A superior book.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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