The story of a remarkable slave rebellion that
illuminates America’s struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of
Revolution and beyond
One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South
Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a
distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were
slaves. They weren’t. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and
slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if
they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican,
finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence.
Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that
culminated in this extraordinary event—an event that already inspired Herman
Melville’s masterpiece Benito Cereno.
Now historian Greg Grandin, with the gripping storytelling that was praised in Fordlandia, uses the dramatic happenings
of that day to map a new transnational history of slavery in the Americas,
capturing the clash of peoples, economies, and faiths that was the New World in
the early 1800s. Download and start listening now!