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Forty Million Dollar Slaves

The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete
Narrated by: William C. Rhoden
Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (163 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says former New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.

Provocative and controversial, Rhoden's Forty Million Dollar Slaves weaves a compelling narrative of black athletes in the United States, from the plantation to their beginnings in 19th-century boxing rings and at the first Kentucky Derby to the history-making accomplishments of notable figures such as Jesse Owens, Althea Gibson, and Willie Mays.

Rhoden makes the cogent argument that black athletes' "evolution" has merely been a journey from literal plantations to today's figurative ones, in the form of collegiate and professional sports programs. Drawing from his decades as a sportswriter, Rhoden contends that black athletes' exercise of true power is as limited today as when masters forced their slaves to race and fight.

Sweeping and meticulously detailed, Forty Million Dollar Slaves is an eye-opening exploration of a metaphor we only thought we knew.

©2006 William C. Rhoden (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Rhoden's writing is intelligent and cogent...this is an insightful look at the role of blacks in sports they dominate but hardly control." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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Book and Narrator Review

Would you try another book from William C. Rhoden and/or William C. Rhoden?

I wouldn't read another book from the author.

What could William C. Rhoden have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

It would have been more enjoyable if the author stopped jumping from back to back dates and had the plot in a whole timeline because I was CONFUSED. I didn't know why he started talking about the 1920's then about the 1930's then back at 1800's then to the 1910's. I was irritated. I didn't know what the author was talking about because I was annoyed at how jumbled up the whole story was. There was no chronological order. It was awful.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I hated the narrator's voice. It was too raspy. His throat sounded so dry that it bothered me. I couldn't focus on the book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Honestly, I liked the whole idea behind the book but it could've been written BETTER. For that reason, I can't lie and say I liked the book because I didn't. I didn't like the way it was written nor the narration of it. I could also tell that the book the narrator was reading, was the unedited version of the book, because he said different things than what I have in the hard copy book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Attention sport players

I would reccomend this book to anyone playing sports in a high level or anyone who is a parent of someone playing on a high level. The gems found in this book provide a high level of understanding of the complexities that are involved in the world of professional athletics from a racial standpoint. Maybe the author could have hired someone else to do the actual reading but no one can tell your story like yourself...for a full review visit The black Awareness Book Club on Facebook

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Awesome!!!!!

Truly makes you you appreciate those that have come before and paved the way. You will definitely learn something whether you are in sports or not.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great book!

This book has helped me to better understand the history of professional sports in relation to the Black athlete.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellence

An excellent read that should be a requirement for black athletes . I'm adding this to a list of required reads for my granddaughter. To the author, thank you and your debt is paid.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book

Any aspiring black athlete should read very eye opening. I have a different perspective about sports now

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Captivating Masterpiece!

William Rhoden literally takes you on an historic political, social and economic journey through the life and times of the African-American athlete! Absolutely Stupendous!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Remarkable

This book was profoundly extraordinary! I learned so much about history that I most likely would not have learned had it not been for Mr. Rhoden’s book. To think that even in 2018, the mentality of slavery still exists in many facets of the Black community is unfortunately very tragic. A phenomenal read that I recommend for anybody interested in the history of Black’s in sports and its relevance today.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I am enlightened

This book has made a profound difference in my life. Thank you William C. Rhoden.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Must Read for Every Aspiring Athletes, Entrepreneur or Business Professional

I learned about this book during a recent “Meeting of The Minds” panel discussion hosted by Catalyst Foundation. The discussion was between Thomas A. Moorehead, an African American Automotive Dealership Giant and R. Donahue Peebles a wold leader of Commercial Real Estate.

The stories they conveyed about their lives echoed many of the themes the brilliant authors of this book covered. The importance of owning the means of production being as important as being the on the field talent. True power comes from ownership and the foresight to create a legacy and have a sense of community. The story of the black jockeys and the Negro Baseball League’s demise is relevant today and transferable to many professions.

I am so glad that R. Donahue Peebles II recommended this book. It reinforced my commitment, values and responsibility to own, lead give back and help others succeed. Thank you Mr. Rhoden for this outstanding book. I will repay your labor!

Timothy Woods

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kwez
  • 10-03-19

Solid Inciteful read

Informative over entertaining, very interesting points on black people in American sporting history; some very poignant points that will strike up some very negative nostalgia