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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the finest book on American slavery ever written., 17 Dec 1998
By A Customer
The academic world has been waiting for this book for the last eighteen years. Berlin, already one of the dean's of slavery studies in America, has written a masterful study of the entire evolution of American slavery from it's very beginings to it's terrible highpoint, during the Ante-Bellum period in the South. The Genius of Berlin, however, is to understand this development in a way in which both the location of a slave and the time in which he or she lived affected his or her life. People who have studied slavery for too long have described it as a static experience, one that never elvolved, changed, or got better or worse. With his wonderful book, Berlin has ended all this and brought us into a new era of slavery studies. Many Thousands Gone is a fine book to take us into the next century as we continue to try to understand America.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNDERSTANDING SLAVERY IN THE USA, 10 Aug 2009
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C. Bourne "busy babies" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Many Thousands Gone: First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Paperback)
If you want historical facts and interesting accounts of what really happened to slaves in the USA...this is definitely the book for you! This is a factual account of the rise of the use of slaves in the USA and the eventual freedom of those from slavery. The Codes governing the treatment of slaves is explained in great detail. A good factual book for anyone interested in the history of slavery! An excellent source of information for those studying at degree level.
If you enjoy this book you might also like to read "Black Masters" by Michael Johnson and James Roak.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 6 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Many Thousands Gone: First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Paperback)
I can only echo the previous 5 star reviews. I have just finished reading Many Thousands Gone and I rank it as a historical masterpiece.

For me, what puts the work of Ira Berlin at a whole new level of excellence is the very engaging way in which he demolishes the linear story of slavery (from the middle passage to the plantation to abolitionism and emancipation) so often presented by other historians, and introduces the reader to the far richer and more complex issue of the changing dynamics on the ground. In this, he considers the issues of power and subjugation, of course, but also of protest, revolt and negotiation between slave and slaveholder. It makes for some fascinating reading.

In this respect, we learn an enormous amount on the life and conditions of slaves in different parts of North America, and how these could be so different from each other. As we progress into the War for Independence period (before, during and after) we get to grips with how circumstances differed from region to region, and most significantly, how the war between loyalists to Britain and patriots turned the slave world of the Americas upside down.

Other issues rarely mentioned in more famous books on slavery is how, for instance, the closing of the Atlantic slave trade actually encourage slave trade within the US, and how it brought a lucrative income to many. Furthermore, the conditions of recently freed slaves is explained with great care, and the often contradictory nature of manumission and emancipation is well explained.

All in all, a priceless work that leaves the reader with lots to think about.
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