Martin Klein's book is a history of slaves during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in three former French colonies. It investigates the changing nature of local slavery over time, and the evolving French attitudes towards it, through the phases of trade, conquest and colonial rule. The heart of the study focuses on the period between 1876 and 1922, when a French army composed largely of slave soldiers took massive numbers of slaves in the interior, while in areas near the coast, hesitant actions were taken against slave-raiding, trading and use. After 1900, the French withdrew state support of slavery, and as many as a million slaves left their masters. A second exodus occurred after World War I, when soldiers of slave origin returned home. The renegotiation of relationships between those who remained and their masters carries the story into the contemporary world.
1. Slavery in the Western Sudan; 2. Abolition and retreat: Senegal, 1848-1876; 3. Slavery, slave-trading and social revolution; 4. Senegal after Briere; 5. Conquest of the Sudan: Desbordes to Archinard; 6. Senegal in the 1890s; 7. The end of the conquest; 8. The imposition of metropolitan priorities on slavery; 9. With smoke and mirrors: slavery and the conquest of Guinea; 10. The Banamba exodus; 11. French fears and the limits to an emancipation policy; 12. Looking for the tracks: how they did it; 13. After the war: renegotiating social relations; 14. A question of honour.