What are some common questions asked after reading The Slave Ship?

There are many questions one might ask after reading this groundbreaking study about the horrors of slavery. For example, readers might wonder why this is the first time they learned about slave ships in such detail. They might also question how Rediker discovered this historical evidence, or what his research process was. It might also be interesting to reflect on how this information can be used to increase people’s understandings of how horrible and dehumanizing slavery was.

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Marcus Rediker’s The Slave Ship is an extensively detailed account of the horrors of the West-African slave trade. Rediker uses a compilation of historical evidence to humanize understandings about the reality of slavery. He explains that while statistics reflect the quantitative scope of the slave trade, they fail to account for just how dehumanizing and traumatizing this experience was for those who lived it.

The gravity and significance of this text could prompt a lot of questions. After understanding Rediker’s purpose, one of the first questions that comes to my mind is how we can take this knowledge and begin to teach history with statistics in a way that does not separate the significance of human experience.

One might also wonder about how accurate fictional slave narratives are in comparison to these facts. For example, reading about the intense cruelty these slaves went through might motivate a reader to consider if fictional texts soften the harsh realities of slave experiences. This might also lead to more questions about how to teach such history accurately.

This book may also prompt a reader to ask why is there such a lack of historical evidence about slave ships. Why is this one of the first texts to deeply explore these slaves' experiences?

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