Review: Flash for Freedom (Flashman Papers #3)

Flash for Freedom (The Flashman Papers #3)Flash for Freedom by George MacDonald Fraser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This, the third in the series, is outstanding! Although fictional, it contains so many elements of truth, and, being written before political correctness became commonplace, is surely a valuable resource on attitudes during the Slave Trade era.

But first, be warned: it is brutal. It uses dozens of derogatory terms for the poor human ‘cargo’ so callously treated and traded, and describes those scenes in cold detail.

Colin Mace, as the narrator, is masterful. If he feels any disgust at the events of the story, he suppresses it perfectly and instead conveys the mood and emotion of every character brilliantly.

And Flashy. Well, he’s still Flashy. At one moment philosophical and learned, the next selfish and spineless, always happy to turn a blind eye to pain and suffering, or worse, to turn it into something with a Flashy-positive outcome:

It’s always amused me to listen to the psalm-smiting hypocrisy of nigger-lovers at home – and in the states – who talk about white savages raping the coast and carrying poor black innocents into bondage. Why! – without the help of the blacks themselves, we’d not have been able to lift a single slave out of Africa.

But I saw the coast with my own eyes, you see, which the holy Henriettas didn’t. And I know that this old wives’ tale of a handful of white pirates mastering the country and kidnapping as they chose, is all my eye. We couldn’t have stayed there five minutes if the nigger kings and warrior tribes hadn’t been all for it, and traded their captured enemies. Aye! – and their own folk too, for guns and booze and Brummagem rubbish.

Why my pious acquaintances won’t believe this I can’t fathom. They enslaved their own kind, in mills and factories and mines and made them live in kennels that an Alabama planter wouldn’t have dreamed of putting a black into. Aye! – and our dear, dead, Saint William Wilberforce cheered ‘em on too, weeping his pious old eyes out over niggers he had never seen and damning the soul of anyone who suggested it was a bit hard to make white infants pull coal sledges for twelve hours a day. Of course, he knew where his living came from, I don’t doubt.

My point is, if he and his kind did it to their people, why should they suppose the black rulers were any different where their kinsfolk were concerned? They make me sick with their pious humbug.

If you have the stomach for it (and you should – such truths should never be covered up. If you can’t stand reading it, maybe you’d prefer to imagine how the living descendants of the slave trade might be feeling instead) then this is a gripping, eye-opening read.

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