Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves

By Adam Hochschild. Houghton Mifflin. $26.95.

In his latest book, Adam Hochschild — a founding editor of Mother Jones — chronicles the unlikely success of the British antislavery movement. In just 50 years a band of idealists and iconoclasts managed to shut down an institution that had fueled the expansion of the British Empire for nearly three centuries. As detailed in an excerpt published in Mother Jones (“Against All Odds,” January/February 2004), they did it by forging many of the tools of modern activism, from newsletters to petitions to consumer boycotts. Bury the Chains’ protagonists prevailed by doing what even the most media-savvy modern organizer must do to win — stirring public passion against an injustice, no matter how deeply ingrained.