Rough Crossings

  • by Simon Schama
  • Narrated by Simon Schama
  • 11 hrs and 51 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle, Nonfiction, 2007
Rough Crossings turns on a single huge question: if you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, who would you want to win?
Tens of thousands gave their answer, voting with their feet for Britain and King George. In response to a declaration by the last governor of Virginia that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the King would be emancipated, tens of thousands of slaves, Americans who clung to the sentimental notion of British freedom, escaped from farms, plantations, and cities to try to reach the British camp. This mass movement lasted as long as the war did, and a military strategy originally designed to break the plantations of the American South had unleashed one of the great exoduses in American history.
With powerfully vivid storytelling, often in the voices of the slaves themselves and the white abolitionists who became their emancipators and protectors, Schama details the odyssey of the escaped blacks through the fires of war and the terror of potential recapture at the war's end, into inhospitable Nova Scotia, where thousands who had served the Crown were betrayed and, in a little-known hegira of the slave epic, sent across the broad, stormy ocean to Sierra Leone.


What the Critics Say

"Schama once again gives his readers something rare: history that is both well told and well documented. In this wonderfully sprawling epic...he manages to bring a scene, a person, a conversation dramatically to life. Would that more historians wrote like this." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Outstanding book

This is an outstanding book to listen to. It has high production values, in that the sound quality is good and the author, who also narrates, does an outstanding job. As for the book itself it touches on for me unknown and interesting incidents in American history as well as the fate of black loyalists who emigrate to Canada and then to Sierra Leone.
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- A User

Great author, great reader.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely--a totally new perspective on African-American history in North America.

What did you like best about this story?

Learning something completely unexpected.

What does Simon Schama bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His delivery is fabulous, because he's both the author and an accomplished lecturer, so no nuance is missed.

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- Katherine

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-18-2006
  • Publisher: HarperAudio