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Slavery and the making of America
Horton, James Oliver.
Adult Nonfiction E441 .H73 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this compact and lucid account of how "[t]he history of slavery is central to the history of the United States," the Hortons (Hard Road to Freedom, etc.) demonstrate the vital role that blacks played in landmarks of the American record (colonial settlement, the Revolution, westward expansion, the Civil War, Reconstruction). Africans and African-Americans appear not just as "passive laborers" but as shapers of American culture, from colonial politics to Southern cuisine. The authors reveal the myriad experiences of free and enslaved blacks and devote particular attention to the lives of women, both white and black. The oft-told tale is made fresh through up-to-date slavery scholarship, the extensive use of slave narratives and archival photos and, especially, a focus on individual experience. The well-known players (Attucks, Vesey, Tubman, Douglass) appear, but so do the more anonymous ones-the planter's wife and the slave driver share space with the abolitionist and the Confederate soldier, and all are skillfully etched. As the Hortons chronicle lives from freedom in Africa to slavery in America and beyond, they tell an integral American story, a tale not of juxtaposition but of edgy oneness. (Oct.) Forecast: A dense but highly readable volume, this may see solid sales in 2005, when the PBS special of the same name airs in February. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Bailey (history, Spelman) spent several years studying local communities in an area of Ghana known as the Old Slave Coast, hoping to bring to light the African perspective on the Atlantic slave trade. Finding the oral record essentially mute, she speculates that the shame associated with slavery has led to this silence. She notes that domestic slavery in Africa, which predated the Atlantic slave trade, played a role similar to prisons in Western countries so that it was already taboo-a fact compounded by the active role African nations took in trading with Europeans. The book describes and analyzes the few stories that have been remembered and looks at the social, political, and spiritual ramifications of the slave trade for the African coast. She further attempts to validate this oral history by comparing it with known historical records. Though well written and intriguing, this is a speculative and highly personal account (Bailey's Jamaican ancestors were most likely slaves). Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. How could a country founded on the principles of freedom, independence, and equality for all condone slavery? Horton's very readable account examines this contradiction largely from the perspective of the enslaved. Relying heavily on slave narratives and primary documents from the era, Horton (history, George Washington Univ.) brings to life the horror of American slavery. He skillfully weaves the tales of individual slaves into the narrative, which looks at the institution from its beginnings in 1619 through its end in the 19th century. The book shows the heroic efforts made by generations of slaves to free themselves using whatever tools they had, from persuasion to violence, and also examines the often misguided efforts made by whites to help slaves (e.g., 19th-century colonization efforts). He challenges many widely held beliefs about slavery (e.g., that it was only a Southern institution) and shows how it evolved from a few slaves in Virginia to a labor system integral to the development of the United States. Accompanying a four-part PBS documentary series narrated by Morgan Freeman, this book is highly recommended for all libraries.-Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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