Forgotten Slave Trade by Simon Webb

I had high expectations from Forgotten Slave Trade by Simon Webb* – The White European Slaves of Islam – but I had no idea how amazingly interesting it is. If you read only one non-fiction book this year, make it this one. What this book makes, by talking on this so unknown part of the history, is to challenge our assumptions.

The book is written with respect for such a hard subject. Black African slaves are mentioned and comparisons are made, but he makes the point, again and again, that any kind of slavery is horrifying and inhumane. The subtitle points to Islam, but Christianity and Judaism are mentioned too. The book is not at all anti-Islamic.

Forgotten Slave Trade by Simon Webb

Because the book is only 200 pages long, it’s obvious that much more could have been written on the subject. I found it very interesting. I feel I learned from it quite a lot, as I haven’t read too much on the subject of white slavery, from an western European point of view.
Some of my readers might know that I’m from Romania, so white slaves taken by Islamic states – as in Turkey – is something I learned in school. The author doesn’t talk a lot about this subject, as I imagine it wasn’t as wide spread as it was in other countries closer to Turkey, such as Bulgaria. Also, not all of modern-day Romania was under a Turkish protectorate and thus, had to pay tribute and to send slaves. He talks about the influence this history still has on different nations and I think he is right about that. In modern-day Romanian we use Turkish words for tips – bacşiş, or for bribe – ciubuc or peşcheş. Obviously that is not the only way our national narrative was constructed around our shared history.

If you want to know more about British slaves, castration of slaves, why Bristol has more links to slavery than the trade in black people, you would need to read the book. I don’t want to talk too much about it, so I don’t spoil it.

Forgotten Slave Trade by Simon Webb

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes!
Published by: Pen and Sword History
Year it was published: 2020
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 208

About the author: Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational Supplement, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.
Books by him: 1919: Britain’s Year of Revolution; A History of Torture in Britain; British Concentration Camps; First World War Trials and Executions; Bombers, Rioters and Police Killers; Suffragette Fascists; The Suffragette Bombers.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of Forgotten Slave Trade by Simon Webb for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

5 thoughts on “Forgotten Slave Trade by Simon Webb”

  • You’ve convinced me and I want to read this. It’s currently only a pre-order through my Amazon (hardback, $40!), so I’ve put it on my wishlist. Hopefully a softcover or digital version will be available at a reasonable price at some point. (or through my library)

    While fiction, here’s a book I read that made a big impression on me about slavery:
    Kelly recently posted…Books for October 2020My Profile

    • New books are always a bit expensive and this one was published in UK last month.
      Can you suggest books to your library, so they can purchase a few copies or just one for it? While there is a focus on Europe, US is mentioned and its role is quite significant, so it might be interesting US-based readers. I can recommend book for purchase at my library and they ordered two I suggested.

  • Hi Anca,

    The Save Trade, no matter what creed or colour it may encompass, is always a difficult subject to discuss, especially in these days of alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party, the Windrush Scandal, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    As a nation, I don’t think we Brits have exactly covered ourselves in glory over the centuries and living just down the motorway from Bristol, I am all too aware of the links to that city’s vainglorious past!

    I guess my view is that no country can rewrite history or change its past, but rather than ripping down and destroying any reference to events, we should seek to set the facts straight for future generations, so they know about their past, but they also know the truth about it. Then we should set about making sure that those events don’t ever repeat themselves!

    I know that this is declared a rather invalid statement and often sneered at, but I do believe that ‘All Lives Matter’ and perhaps if we lived by that rule then the world would be a slightly better place!

    Definitely a book for my list, thanks for sharing 🙂


    • “As a nation, I don’t think we Brits have exactly covered ourselves in glory over the centuries and living just down the motorway from Bristol, I am all too aware of the links to that city’s vainglorious past!” – That is what Webb is trying to challenge. Of course the slave trade in black Africans was horrible, he is not saying at any point that it was not, but there are many more kinds of slavery that are not talked about, and this not only changes the way we think about the past, but the way we deal with modern-day problems too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.