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Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

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Part graphic novel, part memoir, Wake is an imaginative tour-de-force that tells the story of women-led slave revolts and chronicles scholar Rebecca Hall’s efforts to uncover the truth about these women warriors who, until now, have been left out of the historical record. Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought thei Part graphic novel, part memoir, Wake is an imaginative tour-de-force that tells the story of women-led slave revolts and chronicles scholar Rebecca Hall’s efforts to uncover the truth about these women warriors who, until now, have been left out of the historical record. Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history. Wake tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall, a historian, granddaughter of slaves, and a woman haunted by the legacy of slavery. The accepted history of slave revolts has always told her that enslaved women took a back seat. But Rebecca decides to look deeper, and her journey takes her through old court records, slave ship captain’s logs, crumbling correspondence, and even the forensic evidence from the bones of enslaved women from the “negro burying ground” uncovered in Manhattan. She finds women warriors everywhere. Using in-depth archival research and a measured use of historical imagination, Rebecca constructs the likely pasts of Adono and Alele, women rebels who fought for freedom during the Middle Passage, as well as the stories of women who led slave revolts in Colonial New York. We also follow Rebecca’s own story as the legacy of slavery shapes life, both during her time as a successful attorney and later as a historian seeking the past that haunts her. Illustrated beautifully in black and white, Wake will take its place alongside classics of the graphic novel genre, like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. The story of both a personal and national legacy, it is a powerful reminder that while the past is gone, we still live in its wake.


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Part graphic novel, part memoir, Wake is an imaginative tour-de-force that tells the story of women-led slave revolts and chronicles scholar Rebecca Hall’s efforts to uncover the truth about these women warriors who, until now, have been left out of the historical record. Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought thei Part graphic novel, part memoir, Wake is an imaginative tour-de-force that tells the story of women-led slave revolts and chronicles scholar Rebecca Hall’s efforts to uncover the truth about these women warriors who, until now, have been left out of the historical record. Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history. Wake tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall, a historian, granddaughter of slaves, and a woman haunted by the legacy of slavery. The accepted history of slave revolts has always told her that enslaved women took a back seat. But Rebecca decides to look deeper, and her journey takes her through old court records, slave ship captain’s logs, crumbling correspondence, and even the forensic evidence from the bones of enslaved women from the “negro burying ground” uncovered in Manhattan. She finds women warriors everywhere. Using in-depth archival research and a measured use of historical imagination, Rebecca constructs the likely pasts of Adono and Alele, women rebels who fought for freedom during the Middle Passage, as well as the stories of women who led slave revolts in Colonial New York. We also follow Rebecca’s own story as the legacy of slavery shapes life, both during her time as a successful attorney and later as a historian seeking the past that haunts her. Illustrated beautifully in black and white, Wake will take its place alongside classics of the graphic novel genre, like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. The story of both a personal and national legacy, it is a powerful reminder that while the past is gone, we still live in its wake.

30 review for Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn to focus, it's gone? Like invisible forces have shaped everything around you, but you've lost the words to describe them. This is what it means to live in the wake of slavery. this powerful graphic novel is told from the perspective of author rebecca hall, a historian who says she is haunted and hunted by the past. we follow her investigation of the many black women who planned and led slave revolts; a piece of hist Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn to focus, it's gone? Like invisible forces have shaped everything around you, but you've lost the words to describe them. This is what it means to live in the wake of slavery. this powerful graphic novel is told from the perspective of author rebecca hall, a historian who says she is haunted and hunted by the past. we follow her investigation of the many black women who planned and led slave revolts; a piece of history that has been continually erased and forgotten. my only critique would be of the art style. it's very creative and inventive, but not particularly pleasing to the eye. nonetheless, there is some amazingly powerful imagery here. the book's blend of history and historian's memoir is just right. not only is there a lot to learn about the woman warriors who led slave revolts (both on transport ships and once they were in the US), but this book shows just how much work goes into uncovering history once it has been erased. This work I'm doing is hard, and it hurts. It hurts so bad. hall talks about slavery as a trauma that the US has undergone; and not very long ago. when we are able to heal from trauma, "it becomes a part of us that we acknowledge, and provides understanding of our world." this goes for all of us living in the wake of slavery. i highly recommend this book as an opportunity to learn from and acknowledge this history. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Peterhans

    Dr. Rebecca Hall, an African-American historian, has done a lot of intensive research into the underreported or completely forgotten aspects of slavery. In this book we follow part of her research, as she uncovers the role of slave women in revolts against their slavers - something that has been underestimated until now. She dives into archives in the US and UK, and faces quite some resistance - to put it bluntly, white people do not like being confronted with their past as slavers. The book vivi Dr. Rebecca Hall, an African-American historian, has done a lot of intensive research into the underreported or completely forgotten aspects of slavery. In this book we follow part of her research, as she uncovers the role of slave women in revolts against their slavers - something that has been underestimated until now. She dives into archives in the US and UK, and faces quite some resistance - to put it bluntly, white people do not like being confronted with their past as slavers. The book vividly depicts what Dr. Hall finds, while she permits herself some speculation and invention on part of the subjects she's working around. The stories of the enslaved women are of course remarkable, and show how the slavers greatly underestimated their collective power. It is fantastic to see these stories get the attention they deserve, and I think publishing them in the form of a graphic novel is an excellent way to make them available to a much larger audience. It's interesting that the slavers get near to no attention, even tend to be omitted from illustrations, which only feels right, and was a deft choice. At set points in the story, we get moments where Dr. Hall is overcome by what she finds, and she bursts out crying. I'm in two minds about this - I don't doubt she was and is severely affected by her findings, but it did start to give me the impression that the book was pressuring me into what to feel, and at what moment. I feel the art isn't always as strong as an important subject like this deserves. It does do a neat thing where we see Dr. Hall moving around our present world, while simultaneously showing the enslaved people in reflections (think car windows, rain puddles, store windows), making a palpable connection between then and now. It's quite elegant. It's an important book, but not without faults. 3.5 stars (Thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC through Edelweiss)

  3. 4 out of 5

    human

    Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 'Wake' tells the important stories of forgotten female-led slave revolts through a tasteful combination of historical context, present-day memoir, and vivid imagery. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that these stories have been hidden, ignored, and buried throughout time, and the author effectively showcases her struggle in uncovering the truth. This graphic truly does an excellent job at ex Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 'Wake' tells the important stories of forgotten female-led slave revolts through a tasteful combination of historical context, present-day memoir, and vivid imagery. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that these stories have been hidden, ignored, and buried throughout time, and the author effectively showcases her struggle in uncovering the truth. This graphic truly does an excellent job at expressing information that the author uncovers in a way that makes it seem that you're there with her, struggling for the truth of what really happened. What follows is both historical information of the women that Hall discovered, as well as her own journey in finding that information. The art definitely plays as much a role in expressing things to the reader as the author's own voice does. It's detailed where it needs to be, precise and effective in its role. The formatting was a little weird, perhaps because I read it in PDF form, but I would definitely consider this book a must-read for everyone. Disheartening as it was to see how these women and their actions had been silenced and hidden, it really is up to us to keep their stories and legacies alive.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    Part memoir, part history. So many stories I hadn't heard before. Part memoir, part history. So many stories I hadn't heard before.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    This book needs to be in every school library. Not only was the art phenomenal throughout the graphic novel but the way that story wove between the research of Rebecca and the historical images and tellings that were being showed throughout this. This tackles how we need to acknowledge history rather than ignoring it. I would recommend this to everyone but especially young people. Thank you so much Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read and review this ARC!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    Dr. Rebecca Hall is a self-described Black lesbian scholar activist. Wake is her journey while earning her PHD where she sought to discover more about the forgotten women during slavery who played a key part in revolts. Despite historians believing that Black women were no threat she understands that Black women have always been resilient force to be reckoned with. Scouring old court records, newspaper articles, slave ship logs, insurance policies and other correspondence she sets out to uncover Dr. Rebecca Hall is a self-described Black lesbian scholar activist. Wake is her journey while earning her PHD where she sought to discover more about the forgotten women during slavery who played a key part in revolts. Despite historians believing that Black women were no threat she understands that Black women have always been resilient force to be reckoned with. Scouring old court records, newspaper articles, slave ship logs, insurance policies and other correspondence she sets out to uncover the stories of these women. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about her trip to England. As she notes The British always try to ignore away their colonial past even though the products of colonialism are still evident everywhere. As a Black person from the US she is treated better than her Black British counterparts. However when she approaches Lloyd's of London she is met with resistant when attempting to access their records as the company tries to hide their ties as an insurer during slavery. The same Lloyd's of London that finally decided after last summer's protests to now seek out an archivist to examine it's artefacts for links to the slave trade. The lack of written history where these women are referred to as woman #1 or #2 often means piecing together what we know about their origins and making our own inferences. Although the past is painful it's important to keep these stories alive and give these people the respect and reverence they deserve but were never afforded. This graphic novel format makes it easier to consume this history in a way just seeing the written words on the page alone would not. The art style is as raw as the history it explores and engaging throughout. I received an arc from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Originally posted at https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Wake is a graphic memoir about Rebecca Hall's research into slave revolts led by women. It's a difficult story to tell. Both because of the awful subject manner and the lack of records from that time. That's where I think the book goes off track in places. I don't really care about sifting through these records with Dr. Hall. It's tedious to read about and full of passages of antiquated English. The only interesting bits are when she was held up by institutions that didn't want these stories out Wake is a graphic memoir about Rebecca Hall's research into slave revolts led by women. It's a difficult story to tell. Both because of the awful subject manner and the lack of records from that time. That's where I think the book goes off track in places. I don't really care about sifting through these records with Dr. Hall. It's tedious to read about and full of passages of antiquated English. The only interesting bits are when she was held up by institutions that didn't want these stories out there like Lloyds of London. I didn't find Hugo Martinez's art very strong. I did like his imagery of the past in reflections in windows or puddles. But the artwork itself was almost too detailed to the point where little stands out. His facial fetures and body proportions could use some work as well. Overall, it's a powerful book of the kinds of stories that need to be told, that people should be aware of. Received a review copy from Simon and Schuster and NetGalley.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    Wake is part memoir and part historical events. Rebecca Hall is a professor doing research on women leading slave revolts. It depicts her struggles and road blocks in trying to find this information whether security is preventing her from going into the archives to find the truth or because past historians didn't deem some things as necessary to write down. I think putting this type of content in a graphic novel is great because it's easy to read through and you still learn from it. I actually l Wake is part memoir and part historical events. Rebecca Hall is a professor doing research on women leading slave revolts. It depicts her struggles and road blocks in trying to find this information whether security is preventing her from going into the archives to find the truth or because past historians didn't deem some things as necessary to write down. I think putting this type of content in a graphic novel is great because it's easy to read through and you still learn from it. I actually learned a lot from this novel, It's full of a lot of emotion from tears and rage as we learn about the women fighting for their lives. I think this is an important graphic novel and would definitely recommend people to check this one out. Thank you to Netgalley and to the publisher for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kate Savage

    Warning: reading this book opens you to the hauntings of history. All of the past is still right here. It echoes in the waters of the ocean, hides in the reflections of puddles, moves right outside the edge of your vision. It's trauma, yes. But also, wrapped inside that trauma is the sustaining power of the ones who fought. Dr. Hall has devoted her life to history so deep it feels like excavation. She's scraping through mountains of forgotten documents, pushing against the tide of institutional d Warning: reading this book opens you to the hauntings of history. All of the past is still right here. It echoes in the waters of the ocean, hides in the reflections of puddles, moves right outside the edge of your vision. It's trauma, yes. But also, wrapped inside that trauma is the sustaining power of the ones who fought. Dr. Hall has devoted her life to history so deep it feels like excavation. She's scraping through mountains of forgotten documents, pushing against the tide of institutional disapproval, to piece together the smallest shards of remaining information. Sometimes all she has is the unspoken, the gaps and absences left by lives that were considered impossible: the women who organized and fought against the people enslaving them. While I read this book, the world morphed around me. Everything felt more tender, more terrible, and strangely more hopeful than before. Wake is at once a compelling can't-put-it-down story, a gorgeous piece of art, and a sophisticated historical work. Dr. Hall completely shatters all the myths I was taught about slavery: that it was mostly a southern problem, mostly a rural agricultural industry. She even wades into that old battle, where conservatives claim that Africans 'enslaved themselves' and liberals pitch Africans as helpless victims to white dominance. Hall's explanation is clear, complex, and infinitely more compelling than those old tired narratives. Dr. Hall's book taught me that every slave revolt was successful. No matter how they ended, every revolt made the system of chattel slavery more expensive, more tenuous, and the work of enslaving others more difficult. This book feels like an offering, a long-delayed act of gratitude to honor the ones who gave their lives in those revolts. I'm so grateful for the hours and hours Dr. Hall spent in the archives, uncovering these lives. I'm grateful for Hugo Martinez for bringing them to life with this stunning art. This is the living, accessible history we need. Highly recommended to all.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Rebecca Hall is a lawyer and historian. Wake is the result of many years of research looking into the history of female slave revolts. I love that this is also telling her story. It gives the reader insight into the research process and all of the obstacles that Dr. Hall faced while conducting her research like being denied access to archives despite her credentials. Or when she would find historical records that referenced a female revolutionary, the woman was either unnamed or her words were n Rebecca Hall is a lawyer and historian. Wake is the result of many years of research looking into the history of female slave revolts. I love that this is also telling her story. It gives the reader insight into the research process and all of the obstacles that Dr. Hall faced while conducting her research like being denied access to archives despite her credentials. Or when she would find historical records that referenced a female revolutionary, the woman was either unnamed or her words were not recorded. "This is one way that history erases us. What we had to say was not even considered important enough to record. You think you are reading an accurate chronicle written at the time but if who we are and what we care about are deemed irrelevant it won't be in there." In a world where we relish in providing receipts history proves that for Black women the details were never recorded. There were no receipts given. There is evidence of how Black women were dehumanized. One woman was sentenced to be executed after leading a revolt that led to the deaths of several whites. Her sentence was stayed because she was pregnant. Not out of compassion but because the child was someone's property. One of the most interesting facts that Hall comes across is the finding that a slave revolt was more likely to to occur if there were more women aboard the slave ship. You read that right. More women = a higher incidence of mutiny. Hugo Martinez's drawings encapsulate action and emotion. There are pages throughout with little to no words but you still feel the story. They are dynamic and haunting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    Rebecca Hall is a lawyer and a history professor who ended up going down a rabbit hole while researching one of her cases. She became fascinated with women who led slave revolts in New York. These women were mentioned in some documents but there wasn't much detail. Hall started to dig through various sources to try to find more information on particular women who were involved. This graphic novel tells the story of Rebecca's work and also the story of the women who she discovered in her research Rebecca Hall is a lawyer and a history professor who ended up going down a rabbit hole while researching one of her cases. She became fascinated with women who led slave revolts in New York. These women were mentioned in some documents but there wasn't much detail. Hall started to dig through various sources to try to find more information on particular women who were involved. This graphic novel tells the story of Rebecca's work and also the story of the women who she discovered in her research. It really highlights how the stories of slaves themselves, particularly female slaves have often been erased. What is left is the story of the oppressor who often left the details of female slaves as side notes, if that. This is a great read for history buffs and those who want to read more #ownvoices stories about slavery. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    Mixing personal history with global events, Rebecca really knows how to tell stories and convey the truth about erasure in history. My only downgrade was that I didn’t absolutely love the graphics - but I did like them.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Basia

    My only complaint, if we can call it that, about this slim book is that I wish it was longer! This is one of those works where the book's form enacts its content in a literal sense, a concept I really appreciate when done as well as it is here. Hugo Martinez's art possesses a density that many times compelled me to stop and contemplate what I was really looking at. A soothing cup of tea with sugar in London, or the hard legacy of imperialism? A run-of-the-mill hardware store in New York City, or My only complaint, if we can call it that, about this slim book is that I wish it was longer! This is one of those works where the book's form enacts its content in a literal sense, a concept I really appreciate when done as well as it is here. Hugo Martinez's art possesses a density that many times compelled me to stop and contemplate what I was really looking at. A soothing cup of tea with sugar in London, or the hard legacy of imperialism? A run-of-the-mill hardware store in New York City, or the scene of a deadly 1712 slave revolt? The answer is both, evinced by Martinez's art, in which he embeds illustrations of the past directly into the present. This contributes to a sense of underneath-ness that persists throughout Wake, as in I felt as if I was being offered a generous glimpse beneath not only the stories of enslavement that we typically learn, but also a glimpse underneath how these stories take emerge, if they do at all. Unsurprisingly, the archives of enslavement and its revolts are studded with gaps, which complicate Rebecca Hall's endeavors to bring these stories to the page (another hindrance is the casual racism she encounters at libraries and clerk offices along the way), but she widens the angle of the story and invites speculation. She infuses what facts she finds with ruminations on what may have motivated enslaved women to lead these various revolts, embodying the outline of their lives with a fullness that is often tossed aside in favor of historical accuracy. And underneath her own motivations for this kind of storytelling is an ancestral tether—a chorus of voices underneath her own, speaking survival across centuries.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Easton Smith

    There are few books that can accomplish the formidable task of uncovering real history through imagination and personal story. Butler's Kindred and Morrison's Beloved are obvious comparisons in this regard. But Hall's incredible book can't really be compared to anything. From the gorgeous and haunting illustrations to the heart-wrenching uses of afro-futurist imagination, this book is its own journey unlike any other. I was left with tears in my eyes and some important historical knowledge in my There are few books that can accomplish the formidable task of uncovering real history through imagination and personal story. Butler's Kindred and Morrison's Beloved are obvious comparisons in this regard. But Hall's incredible book can't really be compared to anything. From the gorgeous and haunting illustrations to the heart-wrenching uses of afro-futurist imagination, this book is its own journey unlike any other. I was left with tears in my eyes and some important historical knowledge in my brain. I wish I'd read this in high school. I wish everyone had read it in high school. Honestly, I've never really gone in for graphic novels, but this is the perfect format for this story. The visceral illustrations and clever orchestration made the history come through clearly and powerfully. I could feel the stories washing over me as I read and I couldn't help but feel grief, anger, and inspiration. We are all living in the wake of slavery, and this novel can help us understand what that means and how we can move forward.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine Mungin

    This was my first graphic novel ever and I struggled with it. First the format - very difficult for 74-year old eyes-I had to go buy a magnifier but I did and hung in there. Second - the content. I must admit I don’t ordinarily read too much about my people’s ancestry and how we came here because it just makes me mad but I hung in there and finished the book, I even highlighted some portions (“We must live in an alternative Black temporality where we reach into the past to “reimagine a future ot This was my first graphic novel ever and I struggled with it. First the format - very difficult for 74-year old eyes-I had to go buy a magnifier but I did and hung in there. Second - the content. I must admit I don’t ordinarily read too much about my people’s ancestry and how we came here because it just makes me mad but I hung in there and finished the book, I even highlighted some portions (“We must live in an alternative Black temporality where we reach into the past to “reimagine a future otherwise”, “We were never meant to survive, but we did”). I salute my ancestors who survived (strong women included) to make it possible for my family to achieve great things. Thank you, Dr. Hall.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    This book needs to be in every school library. Not only was the art phenomenal throughout the graphic novel but the way that story wove between the research of Rebecca and the historical images and tellings that were being showed throughout this. This tackles how we need to acknowledge history rather than ignoring it. I would recommend this to everyone but especially young people. Thank you so much Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read and review this ARC!

  17. 4 out of 5

    mad mags

    (Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley/Edelweiss. Trigger warning for racist and misogynist violence, including rape.) Dr. Rebecca Hall's first career was as a lawyer: educated at Berkeley, Hall served as a tenant's rights lawyer for eight years. The avalanche of racism and sexism she faced eventually led Hall down a different path: "to get at the root of what was warping the world." She decided to go back to school to pursue a doctorate in history, with a focus on (Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley/Edelweiss. Trigger warning for racist and misogynist violence, including rape.) Dr. Rebecca Hall's first career was as a lawyer: educated at Berkeley, Hall served as a tenant's rights lawyer for eight years. The avalanche of racism and sexism she faced eventually led Hall down a different path: "to get at the root of what was warping the world." She decided to go back to school to pursue a doctorate in history, with a focus on "the history of race and gender in America." Her dissertation, which would culminate in this graphic novel some twenty years later, centered on women who led slave revolts. https://www.flickr.com/photos/smiteme... Unsurprisingly, her battle was an uphill one, since these women have largely been erased from history. For example, four women were involved in a 1712 slave revolt in New York City; while their names - Sarah, Abigail, Lily, Amba - made it into the public record, their testimony did not, save for this cryptic entry: "Having nothing to say for herself than that she had previously said..." Coverage of a 1708 uprising, also in NYC, which ultimately "resulted in the statutory framework that shaped slave control, and was a crucial linchpin in turning New York from a society with slaves into a slave society," referred only to the leaders as "Indian Sam" and "the Negro Wench" or "the Negro Fiend." Other times, the keepers and owners of the records threw up their own roadblocks: upon requesting records pertaining to the slave trade at the British parliamentary archives, Hall was told that no such records exist (!). Lloyd's of London, which got its start insuring slave ships, outright refused her access (at least in part due to fears of well-deserved litigation). Given these challenges, WAKE: THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF WOMEN-LED SLAVE REVOLTS is equally a story of Black women's resistance against the brutality and inhumanity of slavery - and a look at the heartbreaking and often tedious work of historians, especially those excavating atrocities that so many would rather bury, ignore, and outright deny. Hall's story is further informed and inspired by her own familial history: her paternal grandmother Harriet Thorpe was born into the shackles of slavery, but died a free woman. https://www.flickr.com/photos/smiteme... WAKE is both harrowing and illuminating, hard to read and yet impossible to put down. Though precious little is known about women-led slave revolts, through "a measured use of historical imagination," Hall imagines who these women were, who took up arms and resisted their captors, both on ships during the Middle Passage, and in the Americas. She also interrogates the toxic milieu of racism and misogyny that kept them in chains - and then disappeared them from history. WAKE would make an excellent addition to high school history classrooms. In just three pages (see: 134-136), Hall taught me more about the nuances of the Atlantic slave trade than I learned in four years of high school. Likewise, the only slave revolt I can remember from AP History was the raid on Harper's Ferry (cynically, I can't help but wonder if it's because it had as its face a white man); never could I have ever dreamed of learning about revolts led by women. Her entries on the burning of women for treason as well as the increased likelihood of slave revolts on ships carrying more women (surprise!) are simply amazing and make me want to know more. Seriously, can this become a miniseries on Netflix or something? Hall's exhaustive research and passionate storytelling is complemented nicely by Hugo Martínez's illustrations. Part of me wished for color, to further pull the story into the present, but the art is captivating just the same.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    Wow, I was completely blown away by this graphic book - part memoir, part historical investigation exploring the slave trade and women’s roles in revolts. The lessons are great and the drawings are beautiful! I wish something like this had existed when I was in middle or high school, but it’s also great for adult readers. Dr. Rebecca Hall digs into the archives only to confirm that historical accuracy is a farce, considering so much important history was not written down if it wasn’t advantageou Wow, I was completely blown away by this graphic book - part memoir, part historical investigation exploring the slave trade and women’s roles in revolts. The lessons are great and the drawings are beautiful! I wish something like this had existed when I was in middle or high school, but it’s also great for adult readers. Dr. Rebecca Hall digs into the archives only to confirm that historical accuracy is a farce, considering so much important history was not written down if it wasn’t advantageous to the white men in power. It’s a meditation on how history is created and what we can know from what is missing in the archives. I genuinely learned a lot, including about the insurance companies that still exist and profited from “the insurrection of cargo” on slave ships. 

 Back to the art! These drawings are so detailed and layered. Some panels warp sense of space and time, blending scenes from 1999 and 1712 into one image so that you can understand the historic legacy of slavery in the modern era. The artist (Hugo Martinez) uses mirrors, windows, and even puddles to reflect historic scenes onto modern life. The detail is incredible - if you aren’t paying attention, you could miss things like a market scene where a slave auction is happening in the background (bidders surround a man in chains). I am typically not so engaged with the art when I read a graphic novel, but it was hard to put this one down. Highly recommend!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wren (fablesandwren)

    Thank you to the publisher for sending me a finished copy This book really made me laugh at the fact I took a history class every year in grade school and never learned about any of these revolts. In fact, I didn’t even know there were this many revolts, and these are just a few of the women-lead ones. This book was so eye opening and heart breaking. I feel like this is the kind of thing that kids should be reading about and discussing in a classroom. This kind of stuff matters so much, especiall Thank you to the publisher for sending me a finished copy This book really made me laugh at the fact I took a history class every year in grade school and never learned about any of these revolts. In fact, I didn’t even know there were this many revolts, and these are just a few of the women-lead ones. This book was so eye opening and heart breaking. I feel like this is the kind of thing that kids should be reading about and discussing in a classroom. This kind of stuff matters so much, especially with the major topics of the world today. I recommend reading and picking this up!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Another great example of the subjects that the graphic novel format can tackle. I loved the way this book was structured—the true story of a historian doing research into an often overlooked part of the U.S. and Britain’s ugly involvement in the slave trade. As Hall delves further into the dusty archives, situations come alive for her and affect her deeply. I especially liked the artwork that would depict the unacknowledged history of everyday places and things.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Natascha

    Wake is an incredible dive into the past and its making of the present. Taking the reader with her on a detective-like venture through archival collections from New York to London, Hall shows us what it means to fight for the histories that have been covered up and willfully ignored. I loved all aspects of this book - the graphics are incredible, the story is moving, and the content educational. I learned not only about several slave revolts that I did not know of previously, but also about the Wake is an incredible dive into the past and its making of the present. Taking the reader with her on a detective-like venture through archival collections from New York to London, Hall shows us what it means to fight for the histories that have been covered up and willfully ignored. I loved all aspects of this book - the graphics are incredible, the story is moving, and the content educational. I learned not only about several slave revolts that I did not know of previously, but also about the work it takes to uncover them and attempt to understand their actors in their own right. Told as a graphic novel, Hall takes us to the past and the persons who inhabited what we now call history, and I felt moved and awed by the bravery of her characters. Of course, Hall, as any good historian would, also reminds the reader that there is so much we cannot know about the past, and must conjecture reading between lines and in the margins. I love that Hall holds a PhD in history and that the research she presents in her book is the real stuff: she really did go to all the archives, she really did pour over all those insurance documents, and she really did do the work of figuring out how to bring what she found to a wider audience by turning her work into a graphic novel, with beautiful illustrations (thank you Hugo Martínez!). Could not recommend more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts presents the fascinating yet woefully understudied history of women-led slave revolts. This exploration is done in a unique fashion, by pairing the history itself with a memoir of the author’s quest to uncover the details of such revolts, which were frequently left out of the history books. This graphic novel does a great job presenting this history in a detailed yet easy to understand manner, making for a very compelling and engaging read. In j Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts presents the fascinating yet woefully understudied history of women-led slave revolts. This exploration is done in a unique fashion, by pairing the history itself with a memoir of the author’s quest to uncover the details of such revolts, which were frequently left out of the history books. This graphic novel does a great job presenting this history in a detailed yet easy to understand manner, making for a very compelling and engaging read. In just over 200 illustrated pages, I learned a great deal about these slave revolts and their suppression from the history books, in a way that is memorable and will stick with me. I could see this going over well in a junior high or high school history class (though it’s just as targeted towards adult readers as well). The illustrations were powerful and intricate, and I especially enjoyed the intermixing between past and present within the pages that explored the author’s research process. The use of reflections in water or on windows to show the historical events that Hall was discussing as she walked through modern-day cities was extremely clever and well-done, keeping the reader engaged with the artwork by requiring close examination to ensure you saw all the details. My one complaint about the illustrations was that sometimes the figures didn’t look anatomically correct, but I think that was a purposeful stylistic choice that just didn’t quite connect with me. I do also think using color illustrations—even the limited color palette used on the cover—would have been very impactful, but even with just black and white illustrations the artwork was very engaging because of the unique drawing style, level of detail, and dramatic shading techniques. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ankit Rath

    Any good account of history will remind you how rigged a game that we play with it is, and how apt Orwellian quote, “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future,” remains even after all these years, and Wake by Dr. Rebecca Hall is one such book. We know of women as victims fighting for justice throughout history, be it the Salem Witch Trials or the Women’s Sufferage Movement. It has been women fighting for something that men were born with. Wo Any good account of history will remind you how rigged a game that we play with it is, and how apt Orwellian quote, “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future,” remains even after all these years, and Wake by Dr. Rebecca Hall is one such book. We know of women as victims fighting for justice throughout history, be it the Salem Witch Trials or the Women’s Sufferage Movement. It has been women fighting for something that men were born with. Women as leaders is not something that we see very often in the history books, let alone women as the saviours of groups of people. During the 400-year long span for which the Trans-Atlantic slave trade remained at its peak, there were many revolts that we encounter. There come many such examples to mind, like the Stono Rebellion, the Haitian Revolution and a lot more. Who led them, though? The strong male slaves, of course, right? Who else could? That is how accounts of history have programmed us to think. How would you react if I told you that women led many of these slave revolts as well? Because they did. It only happens to be so that the associated historical data has been treated as mere coincidence because of the aforementioned prejudiced viewpoint of history that even historians suffer from. Dr. Rebecca Hall, however, through her book, give some instances that make it possible for us to have a glimpse of what was previously, be it intentional or not, was hidden from the world. What if I told you that in the early 1700s was a political battleground (in a lot more literal sense than it may appear to be) for slaves and that many women-led slave revolts took place there? Dr. Rebecca Hall gives us two instances of such women-led slave revolts That took place in 1708 and 1712 New York, and on slave (cargo) ships that carried slaves from Africa to supply throughout the world during the Transatlantic slave trade. She asks very simple but powerful questions throughout the course of the book that make one rethink everything from their education to their values to their very existence in today’s world. For instance, in 1712 New York, a slave revolt began as a reaction to the death of a fellow slave who was worked to death. The historical data shows there were 27 slaves involved in the revolt but out of them, 21 were hanged and one woman was pardoned for she was pregnant. Hall asks a very valid and quite an important question here. She asks how we should read this information. Do we read this as one woman was involved in the revolt, or do we read it as one woman (out of many involved) was pardoned for pregnancy? She brings into light the fact that women-led slave revolts were simply dismissed as domestic violence and the men were punished but the women were burnt at the stake, alive. Did you know that every one out of ten “cargo” ships saw such revolts during their voyage and that women played a major role in these? Because the history books did not tell you this. Through this book, Hall explores what it means to be a Black woman and tries to make us understand as she shows her reader, her own story of the search for her past, to find what her ancestors faced and what they mean to her today. But this search for identity does not just become her own, but of all of us, the formerly colonised, and the former colonizers. We ask ourselves if we know our roots well? Where does that bring us? Coming to the illustrations, artist Hugo Martinez has done a really great job at portraying history through his artwork. The illustrations give a history book vibe which goes quite well with the subject matter of the book. To add to that, the reflection’s of history in reflective surfaces, like puddles and windshields, in places that Hall walks through is a great touch. This is one of the most unique books I have read in a long time and has also been my first non-fiction graphic novel, but I am sure it will not be the last! And dear reader, always remember that history is always to be taken with a pinch of salt! Thank you so much @allenlanepr for the review copy! I could not be more grateful.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts follows Dr. Rebecca Hall as she tries to learn more about women-led slave revolts. The narrative focuses both on the stories Hall uncovers and Hall's journey itself, including the heavy emotional toll that this research takes. Hall does a fantastic job explaining how the historical record can perpetrate acts of violence by obscuring the efforts of enslaved people to fight for their freedom, particularly when those people are women. I learned a Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts follows Dr. Rebecca Hall as she tries to learn more about women-led slave revolts. The narrative focuses both on the stories Hall uncovers and Hall's journey itself, including the heavy emotional toll that this research takes. Hall does a fantastic job explaining how the historical record can perpetrate acts of violence by obscuring the efforts of enslaved people to fight for their freedom, particularly when those people are women. I learned a lot about specific revolts, how the historical record hides women's actions, and more about the mechanics of slavery. Hugo Martínez' art does a fantastic job of driving home that this history is all around us and continues to shape life today, even if people try to ignore it. The art could be both surreal and harrowing. I did find it hard to make out what was happening in some panels, which could be due to the fact that I read an advanced copy. This didn't happen often, though. Wake was an emotional and informative read about parts of history that can often be overlooked. The illustrations added another layer of nuance to the story to make for a reading experience that left me with a lot to think about. Thank you to Simon Schuster and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. C/W:(view spoiler)[racial violence, murder, rape, racism (hide spoiler)]

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. "Wake" includes discussion or mentions of: slavery, misogynist violence (including rape), racial slurs (mainly due to the historical documents found throughout Dr. Hall's research). This book was one of the most interesting and informative books I've read so far this year. The text is a graphic novel that, as its title implies, tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall as she tries to tell the story of Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. "Wake" includes discussion or mentions of: slavery, misogynist violence (including rape), racial slurs (mainly due to the historical documents found throughout Dr. Hall's research). This book was one of the most interesting and informative books I've read so far this year. The text is a graphic novel that, as its title implies, tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall as she tries to tell the story of the women behind various women-led slave revolts. It shows the different complications that arise in their research to uncover who these women were, especially given both racist and sexist issues. Many of us have likely heard the saying about how "History is always written by the winners" and this text shows how oppressors still have a certain amount of control of the narrative given the desire of companies to hide their skeletons deep in the closet. We see this with Dr. Hall as she tries accessing archives from a certain company in her research. We also see how sometimes the issues in researching topics like this is that no one cared enough to find out about even basic information, which in many causes can result in dead ends and nowhere else to look for information. What I absolutely adored about Dr. Hall's approach was their use of "historical imagination" in order to create a probable story for them based on what she was able to gather in her research. These women were important and deserve to have their stories told, especially considering the attempt from others to leave their stories forgotten. I consider this a must-read and would highly recommend this to anyone.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Haley

    Thank you Simon & Schuster, NetGalley and Rebecca Hall for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel before publishing. All the opinions in this review are my own. I feel so truly honored to have been able to read Wake early, because this was truly a masterpiece. Rebecca Hall went through so, so much in order to bring us this story, and I will never be able to understand the emotional toll this must have taken. I can only thank her for this. Wake tells the stories of various slave r Thank you Simon & Schuster, NetGalley and Rebecca Hall for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel before publishing. All the opinions in this review are my own. I feel so truly honored to have been able to read Wake early, because this was truly a masterpiece. Rebecca Hall went through so, so much in order to bring us this story, and I will never be able to understand the emotional toll this must have taken. I can only thank her for this. Wake tells the stories of various slave revolts led by women who were truly erased from the narrative. She examines the roles of sexism and racism in this erasure, and travels all over the US and even to the EU in order to research and explore this. I found myself so moved throughout this story. Rebecca Hall captures her own emotional journey in such a poignant way. The illustration is beautiful and impactful in telling a story on its own, and creatively gives us mirror images of today as post-slavery and the images from years past during slavery in America and the slave trade. I highly recommend that others read this story, and I think it does truly stand up to Persepolis’s caliber of magnificent.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roz K

    Part history, part memoir, Wake explores the often-neglected role of women in slave rebellions in the US. Hall traces her own search for these women in the sparse material available that directly or indirectly mentions them as well as how she imagines their stories to come together. This is an extremely powerful volume that grapples with the erasure of blackness and more particularly the erasure of black womanhood and the agency that these women were able to wrestle away despite their circumstan Part history, part memoir, Wake explores the often-neglected role of women in slave rebellions in the US. Hall traces her own search for these women in the sparse material available that directly or indirectly mentions them as well as how she imagines their stories to come together. This is an extremely powerful volume that grapples with the erasure of blackness and more particularly the erasure of black womanhood and the agency that these women were able to wrestle away despite their circumstances. Easily the most affecting part of this graphic novel was the use of images within images to illustrate how Hall's search for black women in the archives is still reflected in the reality of black women's experiences today. Hall may be walking down a modern city street, but the ghosts of white slave owners and black revolutionaries still make themselves known. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and empowering. I'm very interested to explore Hall's other work, even if it's more on the scholarly side, because I think she has a lot to uncover for us.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    Rebecca Hall is a historian, lawyer, and granddaughter of slaves. When she set out to research the history of women's involvement in slave revolts, she knew it would be an emotionally challenging project, but it was also a logistical challenge. How does one understand the lives of people who were so systematically disenfranchised that their names weren't even recorded? This graphic history book follows Hall's research journey while also reimagining the lives of women who died fighting slavery. Th Rebecca Hall is a historian, lawyer, and granddaughter of slaves. When she set out to research the history of women's involvement in slave revolts, she knew it would be an emotionally challenging project, but it was also a logistical challenge. How does one understand the lives of people who were so systematically disenfranchised that their names weren't even recorded? This graphic history book follows Hall's research journey while also reimagining the lives of women who died fighting slavery. This is the best graphic history book I've ever read. Hands down. It's truly a phenomenal piece of research, art, and memoir, all woven together perfectly. Hugo Martinez brought Rebecca Hall's story and research to life with vivid, emotional comics that show how the history of slavery in the U.S. is both ignored and still reflected in our society today. I'm blown away by how well Hall and Martinez honor the lives erased in history, and I already can't wait to read this book again. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    4.5 stars. "I dove straight into the erased, the unspoken, the blank spaces in the documents. I felt compelled to uncover the stories of other Black women who fought for justice. Those women who fought their enslavement." This graphic work of non-fiction is part memoir, part historical account of women-led slave revolts. Rebecca Hall was a tenant's rights attorney that stopped practicing law in order to go back to school to get her PhD in history. This work reflects her experiences trying to fin 4.5 stars. "I dove straight into the erased, the unspoken, the blank spaces in the documents. I felt compelled to uncover the stories of other Black women who fought for justice. Those women who fought their enslavement." This graphic work of non-fiction is part memoir, part historical account of women-led slave revolts. Rebecca Hall was a tenant's rights attorney that stopped practicing law in order to go back to school to get her PhD in history. This work reflects her experiences trying to find the history that is not told, the stories that were silenced. You see her frustration as she tries to work backwards through the historical record, trying to find places where the records are complete and where she can get answers to her questions. Mixed in with the graphic representation of her search are actual stories of women-led slave revolts - both in the US as well as numerous revolts on the Middle Passage. This as an absolutely fascinating read - so much in here that I didn't know. The art works really well with the text as well. Martinez captured the sense of haunting that Hall describes as she searches for the hidden stories. In several places, the drawings highlight the idea of layers of history and hidden backdrops - and does so perfectly. I would put this on any required reading list, both for the history it teaches as well as for what it teaches us about how history is recorded. I would recommend making sure you are ready for a no holds barred look at the brutality of slavery when you pick this up. Hall refers to the emotional difficulty of seeing the historical record of slavery in such a matter of fact presentation of lives lost, executions, torture, etc in the portions that describe her experiences as researcher. Some of that experience hits you as a reader of her work as well. Put this one on your list - I'd love to see more people drawing attention to this important work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Hillis

    Wake: The Hidden History of Women-led Slave Revolts is part graphic novel, and part memoir, by Dr. Rebecca Hall. “Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn your head to focus, it’s gone? Like invisible forces have shaped everything around you, but you’ve lost the words to describe them. This is what it means to live in the wake of slavery.” This book follows Dr. Rebecca Hall’s efforts to uncover the truth about women-led slave revolts. Women warriors planned an Wake: The Hidden History of Women-led Slave Revolts is part graphic novel, and part memoir, by Dr. Rebecca Hall. “Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn your head to focus, it’s gone? Like invisible forces have shaped everything around you, but you’ve lost the words to describe them. This is what it means to live in the wake of slavery.” This book follows Dr. Rebecca Hall’s efforts to uncover the truth about women-led slave revolts. Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history. Using in-depth archival research and a measured use of historical imagination, Rebecca constructs the likely pasts of Adono and Alele, women rebels who fought for freedom during the Middle Passage, as well as the stories of women who led slave revolts in Colonial New York. We also follow Rebecca’s own story as the legacy of slavery shapes her own life. I really appreciated the part where she highlighted how the British, particularly Lloyd’s of London, wanted to ignore their part in colonialism and the slave trade. This was shown by them denying her access to their archives. This book is so so important, and I’m so glad it exists. Slavery is taught in schools, but more of a white-washed version. They don’t want to show you the captain logs, the death tolls, the “storage” plans for the ships… Slavery was treating human beings like a business transaction. These stories are painful but this needs to be taught and not forgotten. I learned so much reading this, and it was easier to read being in graphic novel format.

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