Another take on slavery Amistad: New film about uprising should prompt much-needed exploration of the past.

December 13, 1997

MAKE NO MISTAKE about it: Steven Spielberg and Debbie Allen are filmmakers, not historians. But the publicity surrounding their new movie "Amistad" has re-awakened the kind of interest in America's past that few works of non-fiction ever achieve.

Judging by newspaper and magazine articles, as well as radio and television talk shows, the film was a hit even before it opened yesterday. And a too-little-known episode of U.S. and world history is becoming increasingly familar to a broader audience.

This is all being likened to the "Roots" phenomenon -- and that's both good and bad. The more all of us know about our history, the better. But if the exploration of the past and its legacy stops with a film or television series, we've missed an opportunity.

The staff of the Enoch Pratt Free Library has some suggestions of non-fiction books about the Amistad Revolt and related subjects: Black Odyssey: The case of the Slave Ship Amistad by Mary Cale, Viking Press, 1971

Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law and Diplomacy by Howard Jones, Oxford University Press, 1987

The Birth of Black America: The Age of Discovery and the Slave Trade by Andrew Frank, Chelsea House, 1996

Spirits of The Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Seventeenth Century by Madeleine Burnside, Simon & Schuster, Pub Date: 12/13/97

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