on 6 April 2010
This is a truly astounding book. 600 pages and not a single superfluous sentence - each sentence, it seems, contains a fact or idea that, itself, could have a chapter or, in some cases, entire book devoted to it.
It is this density of factual and intellectual quality which actually makes it a difficult book to read. It took me the best part of a year, on and off, to make my way through it.
The Making of New World Slavery is two books in one. The first deals with how and why New World slavery came into being and examines the economic rationale behind it, the economic systems which developed associated with slavery and the ideological justifications for it and the emergence of modern racism as a consequence of the slavery of Africans. There is also a discussion on previous forms of slavery such as that in Rome.
The second examines how surplus value was extracted from plantation slavery and how this surplus relates to Marxist concepts of 'primitive accumulation' and how plantation slavery and the capital generated from it helped cement the rise of industrial capitalism in Britain.
A truly great book.
on 3 January 1999
This book although by by a writer from the left is a well researched well-written survey of slavery. Without emotion it explains how slavery, something which had practically ceased to exist following the collapse of the Roman World was re-created to provide labour in colonies of the new world.
It describes the setting up of the trade occurred and how it operated in practice. The brutality, the mechanics of how slaves were obtained how they were sold, what they did as slaves.
The absence of passion makes the book an even more powerful indictment of the institution of slavery. It describes how in most of the colonies slaves were over time worked to death. In Brazil, the usual life expectancy was seven years.
The book is challenging as it raises questions about the origin of our societies and seriously challenges the notions that European Society was either civilized or Christian.