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A World Transformed

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781472144331

Price: £25

ON SALE: 10th March 2022

Genre: Humanities / History / General & World History

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A World Transformed explores how slavery thrived at the heart of the entire Western world for more than three centuries. Arguing that slavery can only be fully understood by stepping back from traditional national histories, this book collects the scattered accounts of the most recent scholarship into a comprehensive history of slavery and its shaping of the world we know. Celebrated historian James Walvin tells a global story that covers everything from the capitalist economy, labor, and the environment, to social culture and ideas of family, beauty and taste.

This book underscores just how thoroughly slavery is responsible for the making of the modern world. The enforced transportation and labour of millions of Africans became a massive social and economic force, catalysing the rapid development of multiple new and enormous trading systems with profound global consequences. The labour and products of enslaved people changed the consumption habits of millions – in India and Asia, Europe and Africa, in colonised and Indigenous American societies. Across time, slavery shaped many of the dominant features of Western taste: items and habits or rare and costly luxuries, some of which might seem, at first glance, utterly removed from the horrific reality of slavery. A World Transformed traces the global impacts of slavery over centuries, far beyond legal or historical endpoints, confirming that the world created by slave labour lives on today.

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James Walvin draws on his deep well of knowledge to offer an ambitious and capacious account of the ways in which slavery has shaped our world. This extremely compelling and important contribution draws on the key scholarship throughout, but does so in a way that allows readers to understand connections and the big picture. It will help everyone grapple with this vital topic.
Laurent Dubois, author of The Banjo: America;'s African Instrument and Haiti: The Aftershocks of History
This is a book that everyone should read. A distillation of a lifetime's research and reflection on one of the great issues in history. When we were young we were taught that the Slave Trade was something that happened in the past and ended with emancipation. What James Walvin shows is that slavery was fundamental to the rise of the West and that its consequences have widened out over time and space and still affect us all today - in politics and society, in the environment, in attitudes to race, and in cultural mentalities. With unrivalled knowledge and sureness of touch, this is a truly magisterial account of these great and tragic events that transformed and remade our world; in its pages you see slavery not just in its time but still running in the bloodstream of Western civilisation.
Michael Wood, Historian and Filmmaker
No historian on either side of the Atlantic has captured this sweeping, epic story of inhumanity, mass migration, and cultural transformation, and global empire quite like James Walvin. Walvin is to slavery and the slave trade in the Atlantic world what Dickens was to English literature in the nineteenth century. He writes like a perfectly-tuned machine that cannot be stopped; the results are lyrical, deeply informed, amd each new book takes us somewhere in our imagination. Walvin is at home in telling this tale in Jamaica, on the Gold Coast, at the quays of Liverpool, or in the tobacco fields of Maryland. A World Transformed is timely as will reach the hearts and minds of Walvin's multitudes of readers.
David W. Blight, Sterling Professor of History, Yale University, and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
Praise for James Walvin's The Trader, the Owner, the Slave: In telling the stories of three men, Walvin deftly reveals how slavery, like so many aspects of empire, has been erased from the British consciousness and conscience. (One of Sathnam Sanghera's five favourite books about the British Empire.)
Sathnam Sanghera, The Week
While it may be true that, in William Wells Brown's famous phrase, slavery "never can be represented," James Walvin describes with admirable brevity the contours of its massive global impact. Drawing on more than fifty years of research and reflection, he has produced a reader-friendly study of the great historical crime that was foundational to our modern world. It's ideal for students, but should be read by anyone interested in the history of the Americas, Europe, or Africa.
Ned Sublette, co-author of The American Slave Cost and author of The World That Made New Orleans
Praise for A World Transformed: 'Transatlantic slavery is an essential part of the histories of early modern Africa, Europe and the Americas. It played a vital role shaping the modern world, as Britain's best historian of slavery and the lives of enslaved Africans, shows us in this marvellously enthralling, judicious and authoritative survey of the global impact of the slavery machine and how it transformed the whole world, in Asia and Australia as much as in the Caribbean and West Africa. A brilliant guide to a momentous part of our shared history.'
Trevor G Burnard, Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation and Director of the Wilberforce Institute
At a time when facts, fiction and fantasies about the glories of the colonial pasts are dominating discussions, this splendidly well-researched volume is an essential compass that brings the debates back to the realities of European colonial enslavement.
Olivette Otele, PhD, FRHistS, Professor of History of Slavery and Memory of enslavement, University of Bristol