Freedom Roots

Histories from the Caribbean

By Laurent Dubois, Richard Lee Turits

408 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 map

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7255-7
    Published: August 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-5361-7
    Published: October 2019
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7724-6
    Published: October 2019

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Awards & distinctions

A 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

"To tell the history of the Caribbean is to tell the history of the world," write Laurent Dubois and Richard Lee Turits. In this powerful and expansive story of the vast archipelago, Dubois and Turits chronicle how the Caribbean has been at the heart of modern contests between slavery and freedom, racism and equality, and empire and independence. From the emergence of racial slavery and European colonialism in the early sixteenth century to U.S. annexations and military occupations in the twentieth, systems of exploitation and imperial control have haunted the region. Yet the Caribbean is also where empires have been overthrown, slavery was first defeated, and the most dramatic revolutions triumphed. Caribbean peoples have never stopped imagining and pursuing new forms of liberty.

Dubois and Turits reveal how the region's most vital transformations have been ignited in the conflicts over competing visions of land. While the powerful sought a Caribbean awash in plantations for the benefit of the few, countless others anchored their quest for freedom in small-farming and counter-plantation economies, at times succeeding against all odds. Caribbean realities to this day are rooted in this long and illuminating history of struggle.

About the Authors

Laurent Dubois, author of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History and A Colony of Citizens, among other books, is John L. Nau III Bicentennial Professor in the History & Principles of Democracy at the University of Virginia.
For more information about Laurent Dubois, visit the Author Page.

Richard Lee Turits, author of Foundations of Despotism, is associate professor of history, Africana studies, and Latin American studies at William & Mary.
For more information about Richard Lee Turits, visit the Author Page.


"Laurent Dubois and Richard Lee Turits offer an impeccably written and skillfully organized history of the Caribbean. . . . The book's nuance and readable style means it will appeal to both specialists and nonspecialists. . . . Impressive."β€”Journal of African American History

"A lively narrative . . . a straightforward and easy-to follow history of the Caribbean that doesn't sacrifice theoretical sophistication. . . . [Its] ability to distill the complex history of the Caribbean into one narrative makes it an excellent teaching tool and an invaluable resource for scholars of the region. It fulfills its own call to imagine a different (and better) Caribbean."β€”Journal of Social History

"The most unique aspect of the work is the lens through which the authors examine freedom and power. They place land at the center of the narrative, arguing that the key to autonomy was access to and control over land. In sum, the book highlights the contested nature of Caribbean land and space."β€”Hispanic American Historical Review

"This volume's accessible narrative quality and critical perspectives make it a great textbook for any Caribbean history course."β€”Choice Reviews

"Dubois and Turits put before the reader a past of struggles for freedom and autonomy in the Caribbean . . . and in doing so they inspire all the Americas to look at their indigenous and African roots and develop new and different projects for the future."β€”The Americas

"Powerfully argued and engagingly written. . . . Freedom Roots offers a well-written, always interesting, and erudite account of the topics it takes up, especially the troubled histories of Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic in the last century."β€”New West Indian Guide