A night of August 1791 saw the beginning of an event that would be one of human history’s most remarkable – and one of the most shamefully ignored by traditional first-world historians. A Jamaican-born slave, Dutty Boukman, gave a signal at a Vodou ceremony in Bois Caïman, Haiti: possibly he sacrificed a pig, possibly he blew on a conch shell, accompanied by prayers and drumming. Thus began the Haitian Revolution, a black and mulatto uprising that would one day defeat Napoleon, and would become the first and only successful slave revolt in history.
Caribbean history is among the richest and most dramatic in the world. These tiny, beautiful islands have been on the front line of genocide, piracy, slavery, rebellion and imperialism, and once nearly started a global nuclear war. In the first-world imagination, they represent glamour, fantasy, intoxication, sexual liberation and black