The reader could be forgiven for questioning what this book could tell us that would be new and important. The danger that it might duplicate previous studies or, worse, simplify a complex topic because of the comparative treatment would seem to be substantial. However, Camillia Cowling's well-written and deeply researched book takes an original approach to the vast topic of slavery and its abolition. She delves into significant themes and utilizes the comparative framework to elucidate her arguments. Cowling focuses on the agency of slave women in both Cuba and Brazil in gaining freedom for themselves and, especially, for their children, as well as the characteristics of that agency. She makes a strong argument that enslaved women in both countries were the most frequent, persistent, and successful advocates for manumission for themselves and their children in the late nineteenth century. Unlike male...

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