Patrick Henry’s famous cry of ”Give me liberty or give me death” on the eve of the Revolutionary War proved to be inspiring — not least to his slave Ralph Henry, who was inspired to run away from Henry’s Virginia estate at the first subsequent opportunity. That’s just one irony in Rough Crossings, a book about the thousands of slaves who fled from their theoretically liberty-loving owners to fight on the side of King George III in hopes of a better life. British historian Simon Schama examines in anecdote-filled detail how often those hopes would be dashed, breathing life into both the big geopolitical picture and the individual horrors of an economic system in which human beings were ”sold, like groceries, by the pound.”

Rough Crossings
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