Marcus Rediker born in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1951, to Buford and Faye Rediker, the first of their two sons. He comes from a working-class family, with roots in the mines and factories of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia; he grew up in Nashville and Richmond. He attended Vanderbilt University, dropped out of school and worked in a factory for three years, and graduated with a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1976. He went to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate study, earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in history.
Marcus taught at Georgetown University from 1982 to 1994, lived in Moscow for a year (1984-5), and is currently Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also Senior Research Fellow at the Collège d'études mondiales / Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme in Paris.
He has, over the years, been active in a variety of social justice and peace movements, most recently in the worldwide campaign to abolish the death penalty. He is, by ancestry, Welsh, Scottish, Dutch, and Cherokee; he is, by upbringing, a Southerner; by generation, of the New Left; by choice, a citizen of the world.
He has written, co-written, or edited ten books: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1987); Who Built America? (1989), volume one; The Many-Headed Hydra (2000, with Peter Linebaugh); Villains of All Nations (2004); The Slave Ship (2007); Many Middle Passages (2007); The Amistad Rebellion (2012); Mutiny and Maritime Radicalism in the Age of Revolution (2013); and Outlaws of the Atlantic (2014). He recently completed The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist, to be published by Beacon Press in September 2017.
Marcus worked with film-maker Tony Buba to produce a documentary entitled Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels, a chronicle of a trip to Sierra Leone in which he interviewed village elders about local memory of the case and searched for the long-lost ruins of Lomboko, the slave trading factory from which the Amistad Africans were loaded aboard slave ships and sent to the New World. Learn more.
Marcus has lectured throughout the United States and abroad, in Kolkata, Medellín, Moscow, Sydney, Tokyo, and Vienna. His writings have been translated into Arabic, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. His books have won numerous awards, including the George Washington Book Prize, the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Book Prize, the American Historical Association’s James A. Rawley Prize, and the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti Award (twice). He has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Andrew P. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Humanities.
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