World History


“Like a Tiger in the Toils”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The June release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a biography of the “Terror of Jamaica,” a letter from British slavery apologists justifying continuation of the institution in the Bahamas, and the descriptions of an English naturalist.


The Life and Exploits of Three-Finger'd Jack, the Terror of Jamaica (1801)

By William Burdett

 

To some, Jack Mansong was the most feared runaway slave in Jamaica during the 1700s. In fact, Mansong was so infamous his life has been the subject of several books, two of which became bestsellers, and dramatic performances, such as the musical Obi which had a run of at least nine years in British theatres. William Burdett’s work begins by describing Mansong’s early life in Africa and his eventual capture and enslavement:

Mansong, with gleaming saber, like a tiger in the toils, darted on the foremost, and cleft him to the ground. The weapons of his adversaries clashed over his head; but he heeded not death, and struggled hard to break the chains that encircled him. He still fought, and his blood streamed around; till at length quite exhausted, he fell, covered with wounds; and four of his adversaries lay dead beside him. The others bound up his wounds, and, with the rest of his party, sent him to the caravan of a Slatee, or Slave-merchant.

Burdett continues, writing of Mansong’s arrival in Jamaica as a slave, his unbreakable spirit, and his promise to seek revenge against his captors:

“Like a Tiger in the Toils”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

Ascent of the White Nile and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The June release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes perspectives from an Irish pastor in Western Africa, the biography of a Dutch heiress who explored North Africa, and the views of an English soldier in Central Africa.


Missions in Western Africa, among the Soosoos, Bulloms, &c. (1845)

By Rev. Samuel Abraham Walker

Reverend Samuel Abraham Walker described himself as “a man unknown to fame, and of no higher standing in the Church, or the world, than the pastor of a small rural parish in Ireland.” Walker felt duty bound to become a missionary and offered this justification for choosing to work in West Africa:

It is impossible, I conceive, to overrate the importance of our West African Mission: its effects, if the Lord continues to bless it, will be gigantic. In other countries the Gospel merely calls out members of the Church; but in Africa it is enlisting whole regiments of Missionary soldiers, and sending them forth armed and accoutered, to engage in deadly conflict with the demon of superstition, crime, and death; and the facilities afforded for this particular work are among the most remarkable evidences of providential arrangement which the history of the Church of Christ supplies.

Walker’s tome tells of the peoples of West Africa, offers a history of slavery, and recounts, in Walker’s words, “What attempts have been made in modern times to make Christ known to the natives of this vast continent?”

True to his cause, Walker saw Christianity as a panacea. Expounding on the power found in the Christian will and in the word of God, Walker wrote:

Ascent of the White Nile and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

What Not to Wear?: “China’s General Chiang Issues Ten Style Commandments for Women”

Chiang Kai-shek. Source: National Archive Press. via Wikimedia CommonsIn the mid-1930s, when he presented these fashion rules, Chiang Kai-shek was political leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, head of the country's army, and nominally China’s leader. China, however, was divided into competing factions: besides Chiang's forces, the Communists controlled the province of Jiangxi, and the Japanese were encroaching into the northeast region. At the end of 1934, when the article below was published in the Seattle Times, Chiang's armies were making their fifth attempt to encircle the Communists in Jiangxi, a successful effort that led to the famous Long March. The Long March, the Communist armies' meandering retreat under pressure to Shaanxi, lead to Mao Zedong becoming political leader of the Communists, with Zhou Enlai’s support, and Zhu De becoming military leader. They would remain in these roles for the rest of the Chinese Civil War.

Seattle Times, Dec. 9, 1934
In December 1934, Chiang had a busy life. He probably shouldn't have tried to prescribe a wardrobe makeover for his country’s women. As the article puts it:

What Not to Wear?: “China’s General Chiang Issues Ten Style Commandments for Women”

The Death of Winston Churchill: As Seen in One American Newspaper Archive

January 24, 2015, was the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. The soldier, politician and writer lived a long and notable life, which was extensively covered in American newspapers. From his 1899 prison escape during the Boer War, he was in the public eye, serving in parliament from 1900 on and in government almost continuously from 1908 to 1929. He took a brief time away from government during World War I, when, following the battle of Gallipoli—which he championed, but which was a failure—he resigned as first Lord of Admiralty to serve on the front lines.

From 1929 through the 1930s, he was an early and implacable foe of Hitler and the Nazis. He decried the Munich Agreement. He argued for the rearming of Britain. He re-entered government in 1939 and became Prime Minister in 1940. He made mistakes in and out of office. He returned Britain to the gold standard as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He supported the King in the Abdication Crisis. He was against freedom for India. There was no other politician in Britain who could have rallied the people and worked with Roosevelt and, later, Stalin to win World War II.
The Death of Winston Churchill: As Seen in One American Newspaper Archive

Award-winning Cuban Studies Expert Provides First-hand Look at Impact of Long-standing Embargo

Following the release of an American contractor held in a Cuban prison for more than five years on spying charges, President Obama announced Wednesday the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba. Mr. Obama also declared an embassy will be opened in Havana for the first time in more than 50 years.

During the Readex ALA breakfast presentation in Las Vegas last June, University of Florida Professor Lillian Guerra shared her first-hand observations of how the long-standing embargo has impacted life in the island nation. See the full presentation here:


For more information about Caribbean Newspapers, Series 1, 1718-1876: From the American Antiquarian Society, or to request a trial for your institution, please contact readexmarketing@readex.com.

Award-winning Cuban Studies Expert Provides First-hand Look at Impact of Long-standing Embargo

Context Adds Complexity: Before and After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, as Seen in Major American Newspapers in the Pacific Northwest

Reliving a moment in history through the pages of America’s Historical Newspapers takes the event out of its place on the timeline of history and reinserts it into the messy context of its era. The details of the event aren’t altered, but what surrounds it makes you think, “Oh wow, that was going on at the same time.” Or, “Man, I didn’t know he was involved in this.” Or, “I never knew that happened.”

Sometimes even events that everybody knows about are seen in new ways. The response to the attack on Pearl Harbor is a case in point. One of the odd things is that Pearl Harbor seems to exist almost outside of the wartime context, even though Japan was at war in China. The bombs falling on Hawaii and the sinking of our ships dominate our memory of it, even though it had a greater role in Japan’s war strategy which sometimes seems forgotten.
Context Adds Complexity: Before and After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, as Seen in Major American Newspapers in the Pacific Northwest

Just published—The Readex Report: November 2014

IN THIS ISSUE: Myth and fact mingle in early depictions of the Muslim world; history redeems a Justice of the Antebellum Supreme Court; and stitching together facts to visualize Colonial clothing.

The Muslim World in Early U.S. Texts
By Julie R. Voss, Assistant Professor of English, Coordinator of American Studies Program, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Just published—The Readex Report: November 2014

Neutrality or Piracy? International Law, Great Britain, and the American Civil War

The August release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains several items about international law and neutrality, specifically British neutrality. Prior to the American Civil War, British Prime Minister Viscount Palmerston urged a policy of pragmatic neutrality. His international concerns were focused in Europe where he had to balance both Napoleon III’s ambitions in Europe and Bismarck’s rise in Germany. However, the Confederate strategy for securing independence was largely based on the hope of military intervention by Britain, a hope that was nearly realized in the wake of the Trent Affair.

International Law: Case of the Trent. Capture and Surrender of Mason and Slidell (1862)
By Joel Parker
Neutrality or Piracy? International Law, Great Britain, and the American Civil War

"Finding the Real Cuba: Citizen-Entrepreneurs and the Communist-Capitalist State Today" — A Readex ALA Presentation on Video

When Prof. Lillian Guerra declared she would start her Readex-sponsored presentation at the 2014 American Library Association (ALA) annual conference with a joke, I was concerned:

Now, I must admit, my reaction was unwarranted.  Guerra’s anecdote about life in the island nation of Cuba proved to be not only funny, but also telling of the many restrictions Cubans face every day and the steps some are willing to take to openly express opinions.

Considering tight travel restrictions and the United States’ long-standing embargo against the Republic of Cuba, many Americans have a limited view of the island nation and few have stepped foot there themselves.

At a special ALA breakfast event in Las Vegas, Guerra drew back the curtain and provided a first-hand view of Cuba most in attendance had never seen. In a follow-up survey, attendees wrote:

“Dr. Guerra used a combination of scholarship and personal experiences to give us an overview of this fascinating country.”

“The speaker was excellent.  She's one of the best I heard at the conference.”

“It was probably the most interesting session I attended at ALA.  I left feeling pleased that I had gone and am now interested in Dr. Guerra's research.”

"Finding the Real Cuba: Citizen-Entrepreneurs and the Communist-Capitalist State Today" — A Readex ALA Presentation on Video

The Utterly Sad Anniversary of the “War to End All Wars”: A Look Back Through America's Historical Newspapers

August 2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of what we now call World War I. The wars in Europe since 1815 had been brief affairs. The expectation was that this would also be brief. The Colorado Gazette of August 23, 1914, called it “the Biggest Family Row of History.”



The war would last four years and mark the end of what some historians call the long 19th century, which they date from the French Revolution to 1914. It was the beginning of the end of several European societies; the empires of Russia, Austro-Hungary and Germany did not survive the conflict. Eastern Europe was completely reshaped politically by the war and the peace that followed it. Great Britain struggled with its economic consequences. The European conflicts of the 1930s and World War II are direct results of it, too. America’s Historical Newspapers can help students and scholars explore and understand this conflagration in new ways.

The crisis that started it actually began six weeks earlier, when the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated by Serbian nationalists. Other European royalty and government officials had been assassinated in the three decades previous to this killing, but they did not set off a general European war. This killing of the archduke, and the death of his wife in the same attack, would.
The Utterly Sad Anniversary of the “War to End All Wars”: A Look Back Through America's Historical Newspapers

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