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Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery Paperback – July 27, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0521600859 ISBN-10: 0521600855 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (July 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521600855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521600859
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Seymour Drescher now provides the broadest and most comprehensive account we have of the rise and fall of global slavery as well as the reversion in the twentieth century to massive systems of coerced labor which he compares in fascinating ways to the racial slavery that had dominated the New World for well over three centuries. Highly detailed on abolitionism as well as bondage, Abolition conveys sober truths regarding the shocking realities and potentialities of human nature, some frightening glimpses of even worse scenarios that we avoided, and final appreciation of the world's most important gains in human rights." - David Brion Davis, author of Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World

"In the now vast literature on the rise and fall of slavery around the globe there is nothing that comes close to this magisterial comparative survey of abolition and abolitionism. Comprehensive in coverage in both time and space, it ranges elegantly over difficult issues and offers startling insights and asides on every page." - David Eltis, Emory University

"In this superb work of historical scholarship, Seymour Drescher has provided a highly detailed examination of the rise and fall of slavery from about the fifteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century. The broad sweep and great depth of this book describe not only the key cultural, religious, moral, and economic developments, but also the groups and individuals responsible for the important changes. In examining the relationship of slavery and abolition in a broad historical context, Drescher has made a major contribution to the study of world history as well as to the study of individual nations and groups." - Stanley L. Engerman, University of Rochester

"Abolition traces the articulation of the 'freedom principle' in Europe, the rise and fall of enslavement of non-Europeans beyond the colonial line, and the reversion of the principle in 20th century Europe. In doing so, it masterfully demonstrates the complexity and fragility of the boundary between freedom and coercion since Columbus." - David Richardson, Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

"This is the work of a master craftsman at the height of his powers. This book is no ordinary survey: it manages the rare feat of having chronological and global reach, and yet says something arresting at each point. Drescher combines an unusual mastery of the expansive literature with an ability to weave a flowing and persuasive narrative. From the world of classical antiquity to the Russian Gulag, Drescher's analysis is readable, original and often provocative: an important contribution which will allow readers to take stock of the centrality - and the conundrums - of slavery in its wider settings." - James Walvin, University of York, England

"I believe Abolition is the most comprehensive, detailed, and integrated account of its subjects yet to appear, concentrating on the Americas but including fascinating digressions and comparisons that involve much of the rest of the world. The book is encyclopedic but Drescher is superb at giving frequent overviews of a big picture, charting the expansion and contraction of his subjects over a period of twenty to fifty years. And there are valuable insights, to say nothing of enlightening information, on almost every page." --David Brion Davis, The New York Review of Books

"This impressively researched book is rich with insight and nuance, required reading for those interested in slavery and abolition's global and historical dimensions. Essential." -Choice

"...Abolition offers a sweeping, comprehensive study of the uneven rise of antislavery." -Gregory E. O'Malley, New West Indian Guide

Book Description

Slavery has helped to change the world, and the world has transformed the institution. From the 1450s, when Europeans first interacted with peoples of other continents to create the most dynamic, productive, and exploitative system of coerced labor in human history, to the twentieth century, where a new system of slavery, larger and more deadly than before, has inundated Europe, this book examines the impact of violence, economics, and civil society on slavery and antislavery during the last five centuries.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gustavo A. Mellander, Ph.D., D.H.L. on February 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the United States nowadays mention the word slavery and most people would think of captive African blacks slaving away brutishly and the Civil War that was fought, for among other reasons, to free them.

Anyone versed in history will know that every great civilization, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese and others were built on slavery. It was the cornerstone. Caesar conquered Gaul to steal accumulated wealth and enslave thousands to guarantee the fortune he needed to succeed in politics.

This book, brilliantly written, covers slavery from the Middle Ages to the end of the Second World War. He could have brought the story of slavery up to the present time for slavery still exists in some regions of the world. Perhaps in his next book.

Meanwhile we have this gem. The historical breath is striking, examples fly off the pages and one is transported to worlds many do not know existed. The history is horrid, the prospect of repetition, a possible reality, is frightening.

Examples abound in history. In the late 1600s thousands of Englishmen were captured on the high seas and sold as slaves by Muslims in North Africa. They joined other captured souls from France, the American colonies, Ireland, Spain, and Scotland. In Africa they joined hapless citizens from Iceland, Russia, Eastern Europe and Italy. They had invariably been "secured" by Italian slave merchants who sold them to both Christians and Muslims.They were a commodity.

The numbers were not insignificant. From 1600 to 1750 there were over 20,000 British and Irish citizens enslaved in North Africa. Some were lucky to be ransomed; most weren't. Their existence was brutish.

Drescher's book concentrates on slavery in the Americas.
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By Baby Blue on December 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after I had watched an excellent documentary on PBS about Black history. I wondered what was the story of modern slavery trade in the Americas.

This book is detailed and rich with the story of slavery and its history. I recommend the book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book on slavery. A little detailed on slavery but full of references for further reading of study. If you are wanted to find out too facts about slavery in the world this is a must read.
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