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Sweet Water and Bitter

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The vivid, action-packed and moving story of the Royal Naval squadron that patrolled the West African coast to stop the slave ships, after Britain passed the Abolition Act.

About the Author

Sian Rees was born and brought up in Cornwall. She read Modern History at Oxford, has travelled widely and now lives in Brighton with her two small sons. Her previous books include the bestselling The Floating Brothel, The Shadows of Elisa Lynch and The Ship Thieves.


"Rees's story is certainly gripping - slavers used all sorts of ruses to evade capture, from running up a different flag (only certain countries had legal agreements with Britain) to simply throwing slaves overboard (early on, slave ships could be impounded only if the 'cargo' were actually on board)" -- Andrew Holgate * Sunday Times * "Sian Rees combines thorough research and strong storytelling in Sweet Water and Bitter" * Pride Magazine * "A packed history of bounty-hunting and piracy, of high principle and low skulduggery, of roiling surf and disease-infested swamps and of the seemingly endless African coast" -- Kate Colquhoun * Daily Telegraph * "A compelling and moving tale" * The Times * "A fluent and lively account" * Guardian *

Rees (The Floating Brothel) presents a well-researched account of Britain's attempt to stem the Atlantic slave trade by creating the Preventive Squadron to enforce the 1807 Abolition Act. Royal Navy ships patrolled the African coast, detaining slave traders and freeing their human cargo. This epic, complex story stretches across the Atlantic Ocean, where British antislavers clashed with slavers from throughout Europe and the Americas, and digs deep into Africa, where British agents bartered with African kings and enticed them to stop human trafficking. Rees explores Parliament's motivations for financing an expensive and dangerous antislaving campaign that was unpopular with the media, noting that for many British captains and crew, adventure and ambition were the stronger motivations. Her use of case histories and personal narratives make this an especially engrossing read. Readers not well acquainted with African geography and nautical nomenclature may find the myriad details overwhelming, but Rees does an overall solid job of crafting a readable but dense narrative for serious readers. VERDICT Rees presents a little-known but historically significant chapter in nautical and slavery history, an important addition to 19th-century studies. Recommended to students and informed lay readers in British history and African geography.-Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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