cover image Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons

Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons

Sylviane A. Diouf. New York Univ., $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8147-2437-8

Diouf (Servants of Allah) tackles a subject that many may not be familiar with: the slaves who escaped from bondage to live free in the wilds of the American South known as maroons. Because direct accounts of these slaves’ lives are rare, where they exist at all, the author takes her information from court records, newspaper articles, and other outside sources. This cobbling together of accounts makes for an uneven narrative, with important pieces missing. Whether a slave lived or died, or was successful as a maroon, is often not revealed. In other instances, the narrative is interrupted by a glut of specifics. Where fact and narrative blend in balance, however, the stories are riveting. Readers will become familiar with colorful characters like Captain Cudjoe of Jamaica or the man nicknamed “Forest” for his skill at hiding, and they will learn surprising facts about maroons’ participation in trade and defense, along with horrific details of punishments. The plight, motivations, and survival methods of the maroons are also covered in their varying modes. This work is best suited for an academic audience, as Diouf tends to assume some familiarity with the history of the maroons, but it’s a notable document for its treatment of the subject. (Feb.)