We'll probably never really know Toussaint Louverture—we don't even know what he looks like. Toussaint's life is the stuff of legend, moving from a slave in France's richest colony, Saint-Domingue, where he was born in 1743, to the leader of a great revolutionary movement in which slavery was overthrown and then being betrayed at the height of his power by his sometimes friend and more often adversary Jean-Jacques Dessalines so that he met a lonely death in a frozen cell in provincial France in April 1803. Like all quasi-mythical stories, there are multiple mysteries about almost every part of Toussaint's extraordinarily complicated and ethically challenging life. Toussaint liked it that way. As Philippe Girard notes in this marvelous and boldly revisionist biography, “secretive, guarded, and occasionally deceitful, he preferred to keep his innermost fears and dreams to himself” (p. 2). Slaves who...

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