Using oral sources, as well as official and missionary archives, Martin Klein describes the history of slavery during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in three former French colonies. He considers the impact of the Atlantic slave trade and the evolution of slavery both before the French and under their rule. While he discusses French policy, the main focus of the book is the constantly changing relationships between slave and master, and the attempts on the part of slaves to seek freedom, or autonomy where they remained in servitude.
1. Slavery in the Western Sudan; 2. Abolition and retreat: Senegal, 1848–1876; 3. Slavery, slave-trading and social revolution; 4. Senegal after Brière; 5. Conquest of the Sudan: Desbordes to Archinard; 6. Senegal in the 1890s; 7. The end of the conquest; 8. The imposition of metropolitan priorities on slavery; 9. With smoke and mirrors: slavery and the conquest of Guinea; 10. The Banamba exodus; 11. French fears and the limits to an emancipation policy; 12. Looking for the tracks: how they did it; 13. After the war: renegotiating social relations; 14. A question of honour.
"This well-written, thoroughly documented history of conquest and accommodation based, in part, on interviews with descendants of masters and of slaves shows that the culture of slavery was so pervasive that it persists into the late 20th century." Choice
"Based on both archival and oral sources, the book is beautifully researched and is graced by useful appendices and informative maps. Klein comes to grips with the major historiographic issues and wins a central place for the book in the relatively new field of African slavery and its ending." The International History Review
"This book now becomes the standard text on the abolition of slavery in Senegal, Mali, and Guinea. It will be read because of its provocative interpretation of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries...and because it is based on sound evidence." James L.A. Webb Jr., African Studies Review
"This book is must reading for anyone concerned with slavery studies..." Michael A. Gomez, International Journal of African Historical Studies
"The author magisterially explores the logic of slavery within Africa, the struggles between masters and slaves, and the impact of colonialism upon systems of servility. Klein's book is not only a significant and lasting contribution to the literature on slavery in Africa - a major achievement in and of itself. It also represents one of the most thorough, wide-ranging, and richly textured accounts of French - West African contact yet to be written, from which all modern French historians will benefit." Journal of Modern History
"...Klein's book may be one of history, but it is a must read if one is to have any idea of how to understand what will unfold in this part of the world in the near future." Ann McDougall, The Historian