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Bury the Chains cover

Bury the Chains

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Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves is a non-fiction book by Adam Hochschild that was first published by Houghton Mifflin on January 7, 2005. The book is a narrative history of the late 18th- and early 19th-century anti-slavery movement in the British Empire. The story centers around a group of British abolitionist campaigners and traces their campaign from its beginnings with Somerset v Stewart in 1772 until full emancipation for all British slaves was legally granted in 1838. The book looks at the setbacks the abolitionists faced as well as the campaign tactics they used, and explains how they were ultimately able to end the practice of slavery in Britain. The book came about from Hochschild's initial idea to write a biography on John Newton, a slave trader turned abolitionist. Further research into Newton's life drew Hochschild into the abolitionist movement as a whole instead and introduced him to English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. Clarkson, whose often overlooked contributions Hochschild wanted to highlight, serves as the book's central figure. Bury the Chains was generally well-received by critics. Its narrative was praised for being compelling and uplifting, while a few reviewers felt it lacked depth and that Hochschild's political leanings clouded his writing. The book won several literary awards, including the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History and the 2006 Lionel Gelber Prize. According to The New Republic, the book has inspired modern-day climate change activists who see parallels between the antislavery and climate change campaigns.
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date of publication: 2005
main subject: Abolitionism in the United Kingdom

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