Revolutions in the Atlantic World

A Comparative History

247 pages

3 illustrations

June, 2009

ISBN: 9780814747896



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Wim Klooster is Associate Professor of History at Clark University. He is co-editor (with Alfred Padula) of The Atlantic World: Essays on Slavery, Migration, and Imagination.

All books by Wim Klooster

In the late eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, revolutions transformed the British, French, and Spanish Atlantic worlds. During this time, colonial and indigenous people rioted and rebelled against their occupiers in violent pursuit of political liberty and economic opportunity, challenging time-honored social and political structures on both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, mainland America separated from British and Spanish rule, the French monarchy toppled, and the world’s wealthiest colony was emancipated. In the new sovereign states, legal equality was introduced, republicanism embraced, and the people began to question the legitimacy of slavery.

Revolutions in the Atlantic World wields a comparative lens to reveal several central themes in the field of Atlantic history, from the concept of European empire and the murky position it occupied between the Old and New Worlds to slavery and diasporas. How was the stability of the old regimes undermined? Which mechanisms of successful popular mobilization can be observed? What roles did blacks and Indians play? Drawing on both primary documents and extant secondary literature to answer these questions, Wim Klooster portrays the revolutions as parallel and connected uprisings.


  • "This is a balanced, well conceived, and accessible book. Wim Klooster has done a masterful job sorting out the chaotic and kaleidoscopic tumble of events that identify the half-century ending in the mid-1820s as the 'Age of Revolution.'"

    —Thomas M. Truxes, Common-Place

  • “Klooster has accepted a daunting challenge: writing an updated monograph on what we now consider the four main Atlantic revolutions—the American, French, Haitian, and Spanish American....The research necessary to chronicle all four revolutions is intimidating, and Klooster has done a Herculean job, with impressive reading in multiple languages....It adds much to the growing literature on Atlantic revolutions and will be invaluable for teachers of the American Revolution who wish to add a comparative dimension to their courses.”

    Journal of American History

  • “This highly readable and well-argued book at last brings together all of the Atlantic Revolutions—North American, Caribbean, French, and Latin American—to tell a story at once sweeping and succinct about the transformations of the period.”

    —Laurent Dubois, author of Avengers of the New World

  • “Klooster has written a concise, original, and long overdue synthesis of a turbulent and transformative period in the history of the modern world. Klooster emphasizes the unexpected, uncertain, and unforeseen paths to revolution, and integrates the experiences of different populations—loyalist and rebel, slave and free, women and men, European, African, colonial, and Native American. Grounded in extensive reading in multiple languages, Revolutions in the Atlantic World will stand as the definitive work on the subject for years to come.”

    —Alison Games, author of The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion, 1560-1660