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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

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  • Mark
  • Tempe, AZ, United States
  • 05-23-14

Steel Yourself

The story of how the US let itself and its African-American people down after Reconstruction and Emancipation is more nasty and bitter than the Civil War itself. All the Civil War ended up doing was preventing the spread of slavery to the new territories and states. Once the US Army left, the racist White Supremacist southerners found clever new ways of re-instituting their hateful practice of getting cheap labor, and their sadistic jollies at the same time.

I am conservative as they come, but if anybody tells you that Affirmative Action or Reparations are wrong, I will hereafter reply that they are a blunt instrument, but not half so blunt as those which beat upon the backs of the Grandfathers, and Great-Grandfathers of my African-American fellows.

87 of 93 people found this review helpful

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  • Laurie
  • Florence, KY, United States
  • 05-03-14

Just Unbelievable

I have read a lot of books that dealt with "forgotten chapters in history" but never have I read anything that shocked me as much as this book. I truly did not realize that slavery existed as long as it did in the South. The facts in this book are sometimes hard to believe, but if you have an interest in the Civil War (as I do), then this should be required reading. Great narration, too. I am now going to get the PBS movie made about the subject.

30 of 33 people found this review helpful

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Powerful book!

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.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 06-09-10

Will Take Your Breath Away

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.

43 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Facinating

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?

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • BB
  • 08-22-12

Enlightening

What made the experience of listening to Slavery by Another Name the most enjoyable?

New twist on US slave history. Mostly focused on AL and GA post Civil War slavery.<br/>Well crafted.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I Understand

I have learn so much about where my race comes from and what the struggle was really about.
I feel like a better man after hearimg this!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • 03-13-12

Beneath and Before the Kudzu

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Highly recommend this, and have done so many times since

What did you like best about this story?

Learning about overlooked real events, research in the minutest detail, and conveyed in an engaging way through the lives of principal individuals.

What about Dennis Boutsikaris’s performance did you like?

Very direct and well paced; never gets in the way of the narrative, only enhances it. Authoritative without sounding pedantic.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The South will never be the same.

Any additional comments?

The story is a book of passion and discovery by a well respected, objective, obsessively dedicated,

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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An uncomfortable read that demands to be consumed

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.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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A MUST READ. TRULY HORRIFIC ACCOUNT OF US HISTORY

If you could sum up Slavery by Another Name in three words, what would they be?

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.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

Woodrow Wilson needs to be admonished every time his name is praised anywhere on Earth.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 03-23-16

well researched and thought out book

Would you listen to Slavery by Another Name again? Why?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Slavery by Another Name?

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.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

False Hope

Any additional comments?

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.

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  • Dog in a Flat Cap
  • 02-15-16

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.