• The Half Has Never Been Told

  • Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
  • By: Edward E Baptist
  • Narrated by: Ron Butler
  • Length: 19 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (124 ratings)

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The Half Has Never Been Told  By  cover art

The Half Has Never Been Told

By: Edward E Baptist
Narrated by: Ron Butler
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Publisher's summary

Winner of the 2015 Avery O. Craven Prize from the Organization of American Historians

Winner of the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize

A groundbreaking history demonstrating that America's economic supremacy was built on the backs of enslaved people

Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution - the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America's later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy.

Told through the intimate testimonies of survivors of slavery, plantation records, newspapers, as well as the words of politicians and entrepreneurs, The Half Has Never Been Told offers a radical new interpretation of American history.

©2016 Edward E Baptist (P)2021 Basic Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

"Abolitionists were contemptuous of such self-serving nonsense, but they too tended to see slavery as an economically inefficient, and morally reprehensible, hangover from the premodern past. In The Half Has Never Been Told, Edward E. Baptist takes passionate issue with such assumptions. He asserts that slavery was neither inherently inefficient nor a counterpoint to capitalism. Rather, he says, it was woven inextricably into the transnational fabric of early 19th-century capitalism. Baptist writes with verve and a good eye for the dramatic.” (Wall Street Journal)

"Baptist's work is a valuable addition to the growing literature on slavery and American development. Baptist has a knack for explaining complex financial matters in lucid prose. [The Half Has Never Been Told's] underlying argument is persuasive.” (New York Times Book Review

"The overwhelming power of the stories that Baptist recounts, and the plantation-level statistics he's compiled, give his book the power of truth and revelation." (Los Angeles Times)

What listeners say about The Half Has Never Been Told

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A must read for everyone.

For anyone educated in the U.S. public school system, this book is necessary to undo the blatant lies taught to all school children about the American Slavery System - the horrors and the importance of it.

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Deep insight into the past truth that appears today

This is a very powerful book! Stunning experience reading it and learning the real truth of the story of slavery. But it is more, much more.

At first I was curious about the dismemberment of the body used as chapter divisions. Then, I understood.

The sections on how the slave owners overreached in their greed for the expansion of slavery into the territories echoes the Republican’s overreach for power and money today.

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An essential telling of history

Certainly this has never been told or read so well. This history is written like biography with engaging stories of people you wish you'd met. in the end. However, it is the weaving of history and historical economic data that makes this book essential reading. Don't miss this powerfully engaging book.

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Well told story but interesting vocabulary choices

I just have an issue with the term “forced migration”, which is used throughout the text. By definition migration is a willful movement of people. There was nothing about slavery that equates to willful movement. Slavery is this proper term. It should sound as uncomfortable as I imagine it was.

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Best book about American political economy I’ve ever read

Edward Baptist does a beautiful job of bringing the details of our history to life, in this book that explains the way in which capitalism was built on the free labor that slavery provided. He deals with gender, both in terms of the abuse of women but also in terms of the desires of powerful men, antisemitism, and the way that money corrupted the powerful in both the south and the north. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

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The monetary gains

Steadily, increasing amounts and the banking formulas and how they monetize people and the uncoupling of souls from their bodies was despicable 

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An ever prescient recollection of history

There are few books that I read that leave such a profound impact on my very self. Baptiste weaves such powerful threads of fate and origin through the stories of men and women forced to be used by another. The breakdown of each era by body part as a mirror to the institution of slavery was jaw dropping. It was an impactful narrative to a story that had me, at times, audibly gasp because as it stands, we continue to live in a system that was organized under slavery and perpetuates those very same narratives.

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Untold history

This book she be a part of the history curriculum. It is a must read for every American.

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A clear journey though much needed truth

Amazing. I am so full of appreciation for the truth journey this book has provided. Organized for the visual, tactile, and auditory learner! As a native of the Mississippi Delta I was moved to tears as I was given such a clearly woven account of slavery’s expansion. Our education system teaches US history in such a disjointed manner that it comes across as unrelated times, date, events, and national figures. I now understand why. I’ve learned so much about the history of US, of ME. And I’m damn proud to be a descendant of such an amazing people! I’ve been able to get such a deeper understanding that informs my Ancestry.com journey. Just absorbing it all. Umph.

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Very educational

Loved this audiobook. I highly recommend it. This is real history the way it should be thought.

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