Greg Grandin tells the story of a remarkable slave rebellion that occurred in 1805. Off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren’t. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World explores this extraordinary event, which inspired Herman Melville’s masterpiece Benito Cereno.