One response to the complexity of explaining the Haitian Revolution is to narrow the scope, as Sudhir Hazareesingh does in Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by focusing on Toussaint. Despite his tinier canvas and his younger audience, Hale, in the tenth installment of his wildly popular series of graphic histories of thrilling episodes in American history, does the opposite, making his story about the Louisiana Purchase as well as Haiti and detouring along the way to explain, among many other subjects, the production of sugar, the syncretism of Haitian vudou, the rise of Napoleon, and the succession of the Spanish empire. It’s a lot to thread together, and even the wisecracking characters in the story complain, but it’s thrilling to see the story placed in such helpful and fascinating context. As much as I’ve read on the subject this year, I learned a lot!
—Tom Nissley, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA