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)
I can remember Jim Crow, but some how missed this story from my history classes. Blackman has done a wonderful service to all Americans by placing the outcome of the Civil War in historical context.
Essentially, freedmen were jailed on (what we would term today) trumped charges. The authorities then leased those men (and the occasional woman) to commercial enterprises without recourse. They were, in essence Blackman suggests, expected to fulfill their "time served" under conditions not unlike they had known earlier under enslavement.
Blackman fills every chapter with stories illustrating the expriences of those held. They are all explicit and many brought tears to my eyes. There is some repetition or, rather, some of the descriptions are similar. However, the last sections of the book bring home the necessity of the narration presented before.
Blackman's writing is very good. The narration of Dennis Boutsikanis is outstanding. This is a book no American should miss.
Fills in a missing chapter in American history dealing with slavery. We hear a lot about slavery prior to the civil war and during the civil rights movement, but not during the period between them. How did we ever let these things happen?
New twist on US slave history. Mostly focused on AL and GA post Civil War slavery.
Highly recommend this, and have done so many times since
Learning about overlooked real events, research in the minutest detail, and conveyed in an engaging way through the lives of principal individuals.
Very direct and well paced; never gets in the way of the narrative, only enhances it. Authoritative without sounding pedantic.
The South will never be the same.
The story is a book of passion and discovery by a well respected, objective, obsessively dedicated,
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.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
Tells the story of corruption and greed that fueled the extension of slavery up to the time of World War II. Corrupt public officials had their pockets lined by unethical business men itch the chattel of men and women caught in trumped up charges and forced to work against their will. Severe corporal punishment was the norm and death and despair flourished. This is a implication of post slavery seldom discussed but that explains so much of the rac dynamics that exist I. The south to this day.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
This was an eye opening experience for me. While I have always thought that the South treated blacks differently than other parts of the United States, I never dreamed it was worse than ever for them until after World War II. I am not saying it was only in the Southern United States as people are racist all over and a lot of other states made it impossible for blacks to feel safe in those areas. What this book does is document the so called convict workers and how the majority of convicts were blacks and treated much differently than whites for similar crimes. For example a white man found riding the rails was sentenced to 10 days labor while a black man would be sentenced to 2 years or more for the same offence.
This was a money making venture for sheriffs and judges in the South. They would arrest black men for not having any money in their pockets thus being "vagrants" and fine them 20 dollars. Then they would tell these men that their only hope would be to let this white man pay their fine and then they could work it off. The white man (usually the sheriff or judge themselves) would sell their contracts for these men to a mine or farm or factory and the black men would be indentured to these men until they were no longer useful or died. In a lot of ways it was worse than slavery as the whites who worked these blacks had no care for their welfare as there were always more convicts to get.
Corporations like US Steel and banks like Wachovia were owners of some of these endeavors. The United States Federal courts looked away for the most part as it was "out of their jurisdiction". Teddy Roosevelt tried to change things with very little luck. Woodrow Wilson made things worse by creating segregation in the Washington DC area during his term in office. J. Edgar Hoover couldn't be bothered to help the negro. FDR realized that if America didn't do something positive for the Blacks, Germany and Japan would use that as propaganda against America and finally instructed the Justice department to prosecute at the highest level of the law any person or corporation using this feudal servitude method in the United States.
This book should be required reading for anyone who enjoys history. I mentioned just a few ways this keeping the black man back was done. There are many more documented in this book.
The narration by Dennis Boutsikaris was wonderfully done.
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.
There isn't a single anecdote or account in this book that doesn't deserve to be told. They are mostly brutally depressing and shameful. But halfway through the book, I didn't really feel like I was learning anything new. If you read the title and subtitle and question the validity or mechanics in anyway, especially if you are an American, I'd highly recommend reading this, and maybe the prolonged discomfort of the repetitive, devastating stories is part of the author's intent.
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
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