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A Brief History of Slavery (Brief Histories) [Paperback]

Jeremy Black
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Aug 2011 Brief Histories
A thought-provoking and important book that raises essential issues crucial not only for our past but also the present day. In this panoramic history, Jeremy Black tells how slavery was first developed in the ancient world, and reaches all the way to present day and the contemporary crimes of trafficking and bonded labour. He shows how slavery has taken many forms throughout history and across the world - from the uprising of Spartacus, the plantations of the Indies, and the murderous forced labour of the gulags and concentration camps. Slavery helped consolidated transoceanic empires and helped mould new world societies such as America and Brazil. In the Atlantic trade, Black also looks at the controversial area of how complicit the African peoples were in the trade. He then charts the long fight for abolition in the 19th century, including both the campaigners as well as the lost voices of the slaves themselves who spoke of their misery. Finally, as Black points out, slavery has not been completely abolished today and coerced labour can be found closer to home than is comfortable.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson (18 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849016895
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849016896
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A new global history of slavery from ancient origins through the horrors of the Atlantic trade to the present day.

About the Author

Jeremy Black is, according to Andrew Roberts, the most underrated historian in Britain. MBE and Professor of History at Exeter University. He is the author of over 100 books and is one of the most respected military historians in the world. He is a Member of the Council of the Royal Historical Society.

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Customer Reviews

2.0 out of 5 stars
2.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Complicated read 3 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I find myself compelled to agree with the other reviewers; the author tries to pack too much into his sentences. The result is; the reader is swamped with ideas, none of which are explained in any detail. I think he assumes the reader is already well acquainted with most of the themes of the book and brushes past points which need further explanation. I am sure that for 'experts' this would be a very useful book. For those having only cursory background knowledge, much less so. I am near completion, but have not found it an enjoyable read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Irritating in Equal Measure 21 Feb 2012
I read this book on my Kindle, which was perfectly satisfactory.
The subject of the book is particularly interesting in that it deals with slavery in all its aspects and from several different viewpoints. Thus forced labour, serfdom, indentured labour and other semi-slave states are covered in addition to outright slavery. It also moves from the ancient world to the present day. It doesn't pull its punches, nor does it allow current sensitivities to stand in the way of established facts (for example that the present Sudanese government condones and permits slavery without apology).
Where the book fails is in its style. Sentences are sometimes so long that the thread of an argument becomes lost. There is a tendency to use 'smart' words where simple ones will do. On a few occasions I really didn't understand what the author was getting at.
So while the subject matter is fascinating, its presentation leaves something to be desired. It would be good if the author could employ someone with 'simple English' skills as and when a second edition is planned. Given such modification the book could become the standard for those wishing a short well-researched overview of Slavery and its ramifications.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Effort 30 Mar 2012
By Shawn
I found this book VERY difficult to read. The author really makes a hash of basic fundamentals that you would expect when reading a complex topic such as this that covers so much history, social, lack of human rights and economic complexity.

First off the book simply isn't contiguous. The author starts a sentence discussing one topic and rather than develop the point, simply ends up covering far too much material hopping from one point in history to the next sporadically within but a few paragraphs.

Whilst this book is heavy on facts i did find his method, style and approach somewhat disconcerting. He paints far too broad a brush of slavery and crudely places the entire topic in one giant compartment with little care as to the subtleties of slavery, the differences in slavery from antiquities up until the modern day, much less for taking the time to cover any of the topics he raised thoroughly. The book simply contains far too much subjectivity rather than the author concisely explaining the material. For whatever reason the book has his own wry contorted under lying theme of slavery, where he literally in a few strokes of his proverbial pen consigns slavery very matter of factly as just another historical aberration.

Such a subjective and myopic view of slavery, with a glaring abject disconnect, without seemingly being able to put across correctly the material in question made this book a poor attempt at covering one of history's most interesting topics.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Past, Present and Future Slavery 13 Aug 2012
By Ron Braithwaite - Published on Amazon.com
Americans tend to be focused on black slavery which is a far too limited way of looking at the protean manifestations of slavery. Slavery has existed since ancient times and, it would no doubt be entirely accurate to state that the very earliest H. sapiens and possible even pre-H. sapiens practiced slavery or were slaves, themselves. We all have slave masters and slaves in our genealogies. Of course, "slavery" is somewhat definitional. We all think we know what slavery is i.e. he ownership of one human being by another but we are also familiar with societal slavery. The people of Helos were enslaved by the Spartans to the extent that the word 'Helot' became synonymous with 'slave'. The very white Slavonic peoples of the Caucasus and Eastern Europe were preyed on by the Vikings, Mongols and others to the extent that the word "Slav" is now our word for "slave." We have all heard the term 'slave laborers' used for French and Polish workers exported to Germany for war industries.

In Asia and America slavery has been a cultural fact for thousands of years. Yes, there are anthropologists who try to deny it [black slavery was the only 'real' slavery] but they are dead wrong. A woman sold into slavery as a drudge or a sex toy is a slave. A Maya tribesman captured by the Tolecs for the purpose of labor or human sacrifice was a slave. A Hebrew forced to work on Egyptian public works projects was a slave. Hutui tribesmen held as bondsmen by the Tutsi were slaves. Eritreans and Tigreans--as I have personally seen--held by the Stalinist Mengistu government for labor were SLAVES.

Unfortunately slavery will exist into the future. The author mentions the potential for slavery of biologically engineered animals [?] and enslavement of robots [???]. The world has a loooong way to run and, like it or not, human slavery will be a future fact. The human race, precisely because we are a complex of 22,000 genes, will continue to act like human beings. One way or another, some people will exploit other people into the distant future. Recognition of our basic natures will obviate the worst. Denial, however, makes it all the worse.
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