If this book were just a catalogue of the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade—which it mostly is, caveat emptor—I wouldn’t have liked it so much. But Rediker also shines a light on the fascinating social and legal dynamics aboard the ship, particularly the relationships between slaves, captains, and sailors. The story of the sailors in particular was surprisingly bleak and surprising, and one of the big arguments of this book is that the slave ship can serve as an explanatory microcosm of capitalist society. But I’m not convinced of that, and I don’t recommend reading this if you have a shark phobia.