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  • An outstanding and gripping revelation ... essential reading

    Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • Impressively researched and engagingly written

    Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
  • A magnificent book ... riveting

    Ian Thomson, Evening Standard
  • Scintillating ... In twenty brisk, gripping chapters, Taylor charts the course from the foundation of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1823 to the final passage of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. Part of what makes this a compulsively readable book is his skill in cross-cutting between three groups of protagonists. On one track, we follow the abolitionist campaigners on their lengthy, uphill battle ... This well-known story is reanimated by some brilliant pen-portraits ... A second strand illuminates the fears and bigotries of white British West Indians ... The main focus of the book, however, is on the colonists' powerful domestic allies, the so-called West India Interest ... Taylor paints a vivid picture of their outlook, organisation and superior political connections ... As this timely, sobering book reminds us, British abolition cannot be celebrated as an inevitable or precocious national triumph. It was not the end, but only the beginning

    Fara Dabhoiwala, Guardian
  • One achievement of Taylor's fascinating book is that, for the first time in a book about abolition, it gives equal weight to the force of pro-slavery ... Taylor's political analysis is first-rate and riveting ... He argues that emancipation was neither inevitable nor altruistic; party politics in Westminster and rebellion from the West Indies played as much a role as moral outrage. Taylor's achievement [is to] show that, thanks to the power of the Interest, being pro-slavery was seen as a respectable, even popular, position in British politics until the day of its demise. Above all, he reminds us of the role of those who have been unsung in this story - of Mary Prince, Samuel Sharpe and Quamina

    Ben Wilson, The Times
  • Taylor superbly brings to life all the intrigue, machinations, heavy-lifting, rigmarole and chance of the tortuous path to abolition

    H Kumarasingham, Literary Review
  • Impressive ... Taylor tells a compelling story, graced with anecdotes but driven by argument, that moves the reader to and fro between London and the Caribbean, and between aristocratic houses and anti-slavery rallies ... with fierce moral passion ... Taylor vividly evokes the slave revolts ... reveals some of the atrocities perpetrated by slave-owners ... Yet the book's primary focus is political because, as Taylor emphasises, the abolition of slavery turned to a large extent on events at Westminster ... Yet votes were not enough; bribery was also vital ... The writing of British history must encompass slave-power, not just sea-power - as Taylor's scorching book makes clear

    David Reynolds, New Statesman
  • Skilfully written with a powerful and passionate narrative, this is a seminal work that carries the burden of phenomenal relevance. It shows how the enslavers' battle to protect their trophy became the most dramatic public affair in early 19th century Britain

    Sir Hilary Beckles, Chair of the Caribbean Community Reparations Committee
  • As Michael Taylor demonstrates in this highly original, passionate, deeply researched and beautifully written book, opposition to slavery abolition was rooted deeply in British culture and values, which permeated the thinking of many contemporary radicals as well as conservatives. A disturbing story but a very important one

    Boyd Hilton, Professor of Modern British History, University of Cambridge
  • Offer[s] [a] fresh perspective on the story of reform and challenge[s] many of the prevailing, at times self-congratulatory, narratives of abolition ... Taylor assesses how far earnings from slavery permeated British society. He names the banks, universities and industries that all benefited directly from the trade ... lessons for today

    Kofi Adjepong-Boateng, Financial Times

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