Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2009
In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history: an Age of Neoslavery that thrived from the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II.
Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Douglas A. Blackmon unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude shortly thereafter.
By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.
©2009 Douglas A. Blackmon (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
“Shocking....Eviscerates one of our schoolchildren's most basic assumptions: that slavery in America ended with the Civil War.” (The New York Times)
“The genius of Blackmon's book is that it illuminates both the real human tragedy and the profoundly corrupting nature of the Old South slavery as it transformed to establish a New South social order.” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Opens the mind to a side history never told and needing to be exposed. I found myself constantly pausing after some parts to simply reflect on what I just read- not because it was difficult to read, but because it was unbelievable that this was real life.
This book is one of my all time favorites. would definitely 100% recommend this to others.
The information presented here is powerful, moving, and not well enough known. I would have liked more perspective about things such as the total number of black vs. white convicts, the total black population in areas under discussion, and so on. Still, the story is well told and hard to forget. The reader is okay, though he has a number of vocal ticks that increasingly grate (esp. a sort of Clintonesque yawn/purr, the sound equivalent of tilting your head). Also, someone should have prevented his comic pronunciation of Dubois (which he reads like Blanche Dubois) and Tuskegee.
I expected this book to rehash the well-known civil rights abuses that took place between the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movements a hundred years later, but in fact it did so much more than that: it taught me things about US history and slave history in the US which I had never known.
It's a terrible, intimate portrait of one family and the economic and political situation which encompassed them in a whirlwind of oppression. Set against the backdrop of their lives and struggles, the book meticulously documents how slavery continued "underground" after emancipation on a vast, all-encompassing scale through the various machinations of the US legal and corporate systems, protected at every level under the broad umbrella of "progress", how the North turned a blind eye, and on and on.
At its heart this is a very important, overlooked part of American history whose legacy continues through the present day; it was this post-bellum period which sowed the seeds of contemporary race politics and relations in the US more even than slavery itself. It created a blueprint for future generations of white men for how they can keep men (especially) of color on their knees even beyond the Civil Rights Movement, with full protection of the the legal system and corporate America. This is the post-emancipation history we never learned in school.
Although not intended as such, this book is an excellent prequel to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which views the mass incarceration of black men as an extension of Jim Crow laws in modern "color-blind" America.
There are some very memorable moments, but what really counts is learning about the situation of blacks in America from the end of the Civil War until World War II and after. This was a part of US history I had not known and it changed my view not only of African Americans but of the country as a whole.
No, but he is excellent.
Yes, it sure did. I am still reeling.
I cannot recommend this book too strongly. Anybody who lives in the US or has anything to do with the US (which is just about everyone in the world) must read this to have a better understanding of the country, its evolution, and its people. Foreigners not well acquainted with American history, however, must not imagine that this is all there is to it: there is much in that extraordinary story that people from other cultures cannot imagine, though this book recounts a very important and little known chapter.
No. It's not entertaining. The stories are seared into one's memory.
No favorite character
Suntrust revealing to its employees that the Bank's starting equity was largely the result of massive profits from slave labor well into the 1900s.
Same as book
Shocking. Powerful. Insightful. Must Listen American History
The story here-in should be common awareness for all Americans. I was interested enough to listen to the entire story, but for some, it may be too long and contain too many instances of occurrences to keep attention engaged.
I've read the book, watched the PBS special, and wrote a book report on this eye-opening book!
"HIS"tory always seem to exclude its dark chapters from the annuals of time.
This is a great book. It is a part of history completely rewritten to gloss over inhumanity, greed, blatant disregard for the Constitution of the United States. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in US history.
Black people in America have never been free, not in 1865, and not today. This book covers the period from 1865 until World War II, when black men, trained as soldiers, and valiantly and bravely running into battle came back to a nation unwilling to take the abuse and dehumanization any more, beginning the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's.
There really really really needs to be some attention paid to the proper pronunciations of words on behalf of either audible or the production companies that create these books. Dennis Boutsikaris, the narrator, clearly relished the chance to say "Nigger" in his southern drawl, but couldn't be bothered to learn the proper pronunciation of W.E.B. Du Bois.
The chapter on the living hellscape that was the Pratt Mines in Southern Alabama was particularly horrific and moving. I doubt very much anything in world history can compare to the existence of the men, these slaves in all but name, that went down in these mines. The brutality with which these monsters treated their debt peonage slaves in these mines will haunt me forever. Even in the horrors of the American global capitalist empire, in places like Bangladesh, cannot touch the horrors of the Pratt Mine. Southerners were free to take revenge on helpless people for the loss of the civil war, for the loss of slavery as an economic system, for the loss of their position as gods among what they perceived as inhuman tools with the cooperation of local law enforcement, local judiciaries, and many up through the federal government. Race-based, chattel slavery is about the worst thing that human history has produced, but this period for the 70 years after that may be worse.
Woodrow Wilson needs to be admonished every time his name is praised anywhere on Earth.
"well researched and thought out book"
Yes, the book is such a great work of research and brutal honesty . the book almost stands by itself and would be a great reference point on the subject.
A legal system was actually put in place to support this for something and only a World War was able to put an 'end' to it. The inhumanity brought about by a system, a Grand Mother in search of a grand some travelling miles just to free him for now wrong he did. How was that a thing one had to do, and that is a case of redemption and not of common place.
As someone outside the US, I cannot even being to imagine how hard it is for ethnic minorities(African Americans) in the US and particularly in the south. When I hear people/News anchors claiming 'White live matter', I now think of what an insult that is to history and how ignorant and dangerous the miss -direction is. The issue is so deep that being in denial seems like a place to be. What the book has shown is this must and should not be the case. Out int he open and at the highest level of debate is where this conversation should be; changing laws and acknowledging the hard truth about America, Slavery and how the rest of the work to some extent still operates so that the right decisions can be made pertaining issues of society.
"Brilliant, important, devastating book"
Listened to this over a weekend. Cannot praise it highly enough. It's extremely well-researched, well-written and well-narrated. The topic itself is just devastating. As someone who thought they were well-informed about slavery in America, this opened my eyes to the reality of life in the South after the civil war. I now find there are other books on the topic which I'll duly investigate, but Douglas Blackmon has done a fine job here.
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