Richard Price’s anthology on runaway slave communities is very comprehensive. Its twenty-one selections describe examples of such groups in Spanish America, Portuguese Brazil, the French Caribbean, and English Jamaica. The authors view maroonage from a variety of perspectives, ranging from institutional to socio-historical to anthropological. The addition of several contemporary accounts by slave chasers and fugitives themselves liven the text.
If the work has a weak link it would have to be the presentation of Herbert Aptheker’s somewhat polemical essay as the sole selection for the U.S. On the other hand the phenomenon of maroonage is capably examined in the more objective studies by Stuart Schwartz, Roger Bastide, Gabriel Debien, and the latter half of Orlando Patterson’s contribution. A. J. F. Köbren’s study of social formation in a former maroon society is unquestionably the heaviest reading, yet because of the elusive nature of the topic is perhaps the most valuable of the selections.
All in all the editor has assembled a remarkably cohesive and well balanced (save for the U.S.) group of essays. They show, among other things, that in terms of size, repressive mechanisms, life styles, and relations with other groups (Whites, other slaves, and Indians), these runaway communities had a good deal in common. Dr. Price’s work is a welcome addition to an as yet lightly treated facet of the overall slave experience in the Americas.