American Slavery: 1619-1877 (Penguin history) Paperback – 23 Feb 1995
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
"A miraculous achievement . . . A concise, well-written, and sensibly argued survey of America's greatest shame." ---"The New Yorker" "Peter Kolchin's "American Slavery "is the best history of the 'peculiar institution' that I have ever read. Paying equal attention to the slaves and the slaveholders, it is both comprehensive and fair-minded. A master of comparative history, Kolchin brilliantly shows how American slavery was similar to, and at the same time different from, forced labor in Brazil, the Caribbean, and Russia. His splendid bibliographical essay is an indispensable guide to the vast and complex literature on slavery."--David Herbert Donald, Charles Warren Professor of American History Emeritus, Harvard University "This is a brilliant and masterful synthesis of scholarship on the history of slavery in America. Kolchin not only pulls together all the relevant literature but also strikes out with his own perceptive and trenchant analyses.--August Meier, Kent State Unive
About the Author
Peter Kolchin is Professor of History at the University of Delaware. Winner of the Bancroft Prize in American history, his other books include Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom and A Sphinx on American Land.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
I say this because in the wake of a run of Hollywood films on the subject matter (especially over the past decade or so) there is a tendency to regard slavery in North America through the often exaggerated looking glass of blood, massacre, and annihilation. What Kolchin does in a remarkably slender but condensed text is to offer the reader a thought-provoking overview of the economic and political causes, and results, of American slavery. Slavery is horror, let's be clear on that, but it is also a sociological entity that contains its own life and its own twisted logic. One element of this logic (if it be that) lies in the obvious reality that you don't destroy your own property - the routine massacre of slaves was not part of plantation life, nor could it have been. Neither was physical abuse as prevalent as one might first believe. The killing or torture of slaves did occur, for certain, but it wasn't the norm.
Kolchin builds on the work of his predecessors while also questioning some fundamental preconceptions and even some supposedly established truths on the subject. Some might find the economic detail laborious but it is there to serve the purpose of clarifying what is myth and what is reality. The discussion of the philosophical basis for American slavery is likewise crucial - to simply utter "Oh how awful it was" isn't good enough- one must understand a society's notion of itself in order to understand its errors.
For me, the most fascinating sections of the book are those dealing with the private lives of slaves and the nature of slave society in and of itself - how slaves maintained normality, why they chose certain names, how they kept their familial ties through such vicarious lives. Alongside this, the chapters dealing with the effect slavery had on the retardation of Southern social and economic life are of gigantic importance in the 21st century; anyone who wishes to understand the state of the southern US today cannot afford to ignore the profound impact that the slave economy had on the region beyond the Civil War and up until the present time. Why is the north rich and the south poor?
Therein lies the beauty of this brilliant little book: Kolchin works through the the shameful genesis of American slavery, through Independence, onto the Civil War, and then the Antebellum period, all the while building up to some pretty surprising conclusions.
There are weightier texts than this out there but many of them are incredibly boring and, by nature, incredibly long. Here instead is a thorough, fascinating, surprising book that has already received deserved high praise. Along the way there are passages which are heartbreaking in the exposing the facts of slavery's impact, but this is a book which finally deals with a shameful era of US history in a manner which explains the present as well.
I highly recommend this book to anyone - no other text out there (surprisingly) does as good a job in covering the entire period.
The book also draws interesting parallels between American slavery and slavery elsewhere in the Americas, and serfdom in Russia.
I see two shortcomings to this book
- I would have liked a larger section on post war reconstruction, it is there, but is rather small, given that the book is about slavery itself it is probably not a major point.
- The style is rather dry, the topic is interesting and yet on occasion I found myself forcing myself to continue reading.
First and most significantly, it gave me a great understanding of the origins, evolution and nature of slavery in America, in an understandable and accessible way. In this book, the author doesn't just chuck facts at you; he explains them, using them to illustrate the effect slavery had on American society and to demonstrate the extent to which slavery shaped society, culture, and life, for both white and black people from the colonial era through to emancipation and reconstruction.
Some things I found more interesting than others, such as the development of African American culture and the justifications and arguments for and against slavery, other things, such as the the development of agricultural apparatus and intense descriptions of Americas biggest exports sometimes (only very occasionally) make the book seem dry. One the whole, the book is brilliantly engaging and informative, filled with relevant facts and important events that affected and shaped the direction of the "peculiar institution".
Secondly, and perhaps that which I am most grateful for, is the way the author has introduced me a plethora of primary sources for the further study of American slavery. Throughout the book, the author quotes from diverse and often divergent sources and, at the very end of the book, is a comparatively short bibliographical essay that lists sources such as slave narrative, slave owner diaries and other secondary sources dealing with the history of American slavery.
Being a 19 year-old black male myself, this book helped me appreciate the freedoms I have today, and the struggle my ancestors endured to bring those about; the book contains captivating descriptions of the ideology of slave masters, the laws hat repressed blacks and how blacks responded to and resisted the oppression they faced.I hope to take this with me in my further reading of slavery, and in life in general.
In short, a great book to learn or relearn about American slavery.
I'm sure that it would be of benefit as an academic reference but if you're looking for a factual but more casual, entertaining read about that disgusting era of our history, try 'Black Ivory' by James Walvin.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Look for similar items by category
- Books > History > Americas > United States
- Books > History > Social & Cultural
- Books > History > World History > Slavery
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Anthropology > Ethnography & Ethnology
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Multicultural Studies > Black Studies