#SummerReads: 'Testing the Chains' by Michael Craton - The National Library of Jamaica

#SummerReads: ‘Testing the Chains’ by Michael Craton

It’s Summer! This is a time to unwind and get some much needed rest and relaxation. Whether you’re spending your holidays at the beach, in the country, overseas, or just enjoying a relaxing ‘stay-cation’, you’ll want to keep these #SummerReads close at hand.

Handpicked by National Library of Jamaica staff, these books are sure to grab your attention and maybe even teach you something you didn’t know before. All our #SummerReads are available in the book collection at the NLJ. Let us know what you think! 



Testing The Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies by Michael Craton


This pick comes from Demar Ludford, Research Officer in the NLJ’s Research and Information Department. His #SummerRead is Michael Craton’s ‘Testing The Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies‘. By his own admission, Demar isn’t a ‘big reader’. So when he recommends a book we all sit up and listen.



Testing the Chains was published in 1982 by English Historian Michael Craton (born in 1931). The book considers the ideology of slavery and the resistance of those enslaved. For conducting research on resistance to slavery it is one of the main reference resources as Testing the Chains spans the entire British Caribbean basin; detailing the struggles that enslaved persons went through and their fight to freedom.

Craton writes about several revolts (and their impacts) in different British Caribbean territories. But the key aspect of this book, in my opinion, are the Emancipation Wars. These wars took place in three separate countries during three different periods:The Bussa Revolt in 1816 (Barbados), the Demerara Revolt in 1823 (Guyana), and the Christmas Rebellion in 1831 (Jamaica).  These three revolts, especially the Christmas Rebellion, played a pivotal role in the eventual fall of slavery. The Christmas Rebellion was the last major rebellion in the British Caribbean and is one which historians often note sped up the process of emancipation.

I chose this book as my #SummerRead because as a researcher and a historian, books of this nature tend to especially capture my imagination . Additionally, it is often said that those who do not read history are doomed to repeat its failures. I believe a look into the past at times can help us resolve or avoid altogether the problems of the future.



-Demar Ludford: Research Officer, NLJ