‘Abolition by Richard Reddie is one of the best books to be published for the anniversary of the ending of the slave trade. Reddie paints a broad picture of the roots of the African slave trade, giving justice to those figures such as Clarkson who are sometimes ignored. He dispels the myth that the enslaved sat around waiting to be rescued by white people, and isn’t afraid to explore nastiness in describing slavery. It’s a gripping and pacy book that is solidly researched. I liked it because it’s lively and passionate.
Reddie draws out the fact that slavery wasn’t discussed in Britain, in the same way that we don’t talk about poverty today. We know that it’s going on, but it doesn’t move us. It was accepted that no economy could run without slaves. Reddie looks at the ambiguous role of the Church — the Quakers come out best. He tells of slaves being beaten outside churches holding services, and the priests asking the perpetrators to be quieter.
I believe that there are parallels between the challenges that the abolitionists faced and the big issues of today. Slavery still continues in the form of trafficking. Poverty at home and abroad, and climate change and the environment are huge problems for our society. Perhaps we should learn from Wilberforce, who brought the Bill to abolish slavery to Parliament 11 times before it was passed. Politically astute, he banned the transportation of slaves first — perhaps we too should tackle problems one stage at a time.’
Richard S. Reddie, Abolition, Lion, £9.99 (£9); 978-07459-5229-1.
Andrew Bradstock’s Louder than Words is to be published by Darton Longman & Todd in July.