Predator of the Seas: A History of the Slaveship that Fought for Emancipation (Hardcover)

Predator of the Seas: A History of the Slaveship that Fought for Emancipation By Stephen Taylor Cover Image

Predator of the Seas: A History of the Slaveship that Fought for Emancipation (Hardcover)


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The dramatic biography of a slaveship turned freedom-fighter—which brings new insights into Britain’s involvement in the end of the trade in enslaved people

In 1827 the Royal Navy purchased a Baltimore clipper and renamed her the Black Joke. Assigned to the Preventative Squadron, she patrolled the west coast of Africa and freed 3,692 captives from enslavement. Beloved by seafarers and celebrated by the public, the Black Joke would become the most famous weapon in the campaign for abolition.
But in her previous life as the Henriqueta, the Black Joke had been a slave ship.
Through the experiences of slavers and abolitionists, captives and crew, Stephen Taylor charts the vessel’s extraordinary double life. As the Henriqueta she operated as an engine of atrocity, trafficking over 3,000 captives to plantations in Brazil. But subsequently manned by British seamen and Liberian Kru, the Black Joke became the scourge of Spanish and Brazilian slavers. She did so despite limited resources, neglect, and even obstruction by the authorities at home.
Taylor offers a gripping account of the world of the transatlantic trade, through the eyes of its perpetrators—and those who sought its end.
Stephen Taylor is a writer of maritime history, biography, and travel. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for The Times, The Observer, and The Economist, and is the author of Storm and Conquest, Commander, and Sons of the Waves.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300263992
ISBN-10: 0300263996
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: September 24th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English

“Abolishing the slave trade was one thing, enforcing that abolition quite another. Predator of the Seas brings a new perspective to the story – the view from the deck of a vessel which served on both sides.”—Michael Bundock, author of The Fortunes of Francis Barber


“This brilliant, challenging book handles complex and controversial issues of race, slavery and agency with insight.”—Andrew Lambert, author of Nelson


“By turns moving and harrowing, this deeply researched narrative of the mechanics of the Atlantic slave trade and one ship’s attempt to thwart it makes for a terrific read.”—Roger Crowley, author of Conquerors


“This tightly-focused account of the horrific trade that took enslaved Africans to Brazil, and the moral ambiguities of Britain’s nineteenth-century anti-slavery patrols, is a page-turner – searing and atmospheric.”—Margarette Lincoln, author of Trading in War