The author shows how the societies of West Africa were transformed by the slave trade. The growth of the Atlantic trade stimulated the development of slavery within the region, with slaves working in the river and coasting trades or producing surplus grain to feed slaves in transit. A few held pivotal positions in the political structure of the coastal kingdoms of Senegambia. This local slave system had far-reaching consequences, leading to religious protest and slave rebellions. The changes in agricultural production fostered an ecological crisis.
l. Cosaan: 'the origins'; 2. Slavery and the slave trade in the Lower Senegal; 3. The Atlantic kingdom: maritime commerce and social change; 4. Merchants and slaves: slavery on Saint Louis and Gorée; 5. Famine, civil war, and secession, l750–l800; 6. From river empire to colony: Saint Louis and Senegal, l800–l860.
"This is a very important book. It integrates the history of slavery into the wider history of the region. It is well documented and skillfully argued. Perhaps most important, Searing has helped to shift our attention from raw numbers exported to the ways in which the slave trade shaped African life. He has contributed to our understanding of not only slavery, but also of Sénégalese history." African Studies Review
"...the book occupies a major niche in African and Atlantic history, as well as the more specialized field of Senegambian history, and will have a long scholarly life." David Eltis, The Northern Mariner