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Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities Hardcover – September 17, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1596916814 ISBN-10: 1596916818 Edition: 1St Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1St Edition edition (September 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596916818
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596916814
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Not only were many of America’s most prestigious colleges founded and supported by slaveholders, but the colleges also provided much of the scholarly and cultural basis of support for slavery. Historian Wilder documents the uncomfortable truth of the inextricable tie between slavery and the ivory tower, how venerable colleges, including Harvard, Princeton, William and Mary, Yale, and others, vied for the attention, land, sons, and money of plantation owners. Slavery provided financial support to the colleges and secure career prospects for many of their graduates, and many colleges owned slaves used for work, trade, and sale. What began for many universities as an ostensible mission of civilizing savages—Native Americans and Africans—later morphed into support for the establishment and development of colonies and territorial expansion. In the growing debate about slavery, abolition, and the movement to return Africans to Africa, prestigious universities and scholars helped to frame and address questions of theology, economics, medicine, history, and other areas of study in the growing debate around the issue, many legitimizing slavery and racism even as they benefited from it. This is a well-researched and revealing look at the connection between American academia and American slavery. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"It is Mr. Wilder's vast and often seemingly banal catalog of mercantile transactions, charitable bequests, and academic and administrative appointments—all links in the chain that joins universities to slavery—that lends the book its disturbing power… a passionate recounting of the collective dehumanization of African-Americans coincident with the rise in power and prestige of the Atlantic college, particularly the Ivy League." –Allegra di Bonaventura, Wall Street Journal
“Wilder knows a great deal about his subject and does not flinch from facing it head-on… there is much to admire in ‘Ebony & Ivy’ and much to learn from it.” –Washington Post
 
“A groundbreaking history that will no doubt contribute to a reappraisal of some deep-rooted founding myths.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“A well-researched and revealing look at the connection between American academia and American slavery.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“Wilder's copiously documented argument exposes how deeply implicated American higher education has been in racial exploitation that has dispossessed and subjugated peoples of color so as to invest whites beyond measure. His is a study deserving of serious attention from anyone interested in America's history, institutions, or intellectual development.” –Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

So much made so much more sense.
V. M. Ricks
Phenomenal book with a very in depth look into a realm of higher education that's rarely discussed.
Brandon Wolfe
This very readable book reflects the author's extensive research and balanced use of his findings.
jay k.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Saundra Mitchell on September 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is a painful reminder for many, and a painful illumination for others, that life in the Early Americas for anyone who wasn't part of the Colonial expansion from Europe was far from idealistic and idyllic. Wilder moves through the pre-Colonial era with a disturbing grace. His language refuses to allow the reader to sanitize the genocide and abduction of both Native American and African populations during this period. He doesn't let the reader hide behind the strangely neutral "slave"-- it's always enslaved person-- because that's truly the point behind this examination of Early America.

Not only was the country itself built on the labor of enslaved people, even the places that we consider today to be bastions for progressive thought, have racism steeped into the very foundations. This is not an easy read, nor is it a pop social commentary on race. It's a thoughtful, in-depth examination that requires your attention on every page. It reveals and reminds us all that despite the high-minded thoughts of early leaders, their actions were very, very different indeed-- especially if they served to profit from the trade in human beings.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By jay k. on October 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Focusing on the highest level educational institutions in early America, which were almost always closely connected to churches, Wilder provides a very strong demonstration of how deeply ingrained slavery was as not only a legal and normal institution, but an institution which was accepted by those considered to be society's highest intellectual and ethical leaders. This very readable book reflects the author's extensive research and balanced use of his findings. I would recommend it highly.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By carole frick on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a must-read for all people in American academia. It uses archival research to uncover the racist roots of our most prestigious private institutions of higher education. Students should be assigned this book and professors should discuss the vast implications of its revelations. Even IF we already knew that the economy of this country was based largely on slave labor, that our hallowed halls of academe also took advantage of our early forays into slavery and plantation products is eloquently demonstrated here. One of the most enlightening historical monographs I have read in years.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By frenchiel on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ebony & Ivy demonstrates the beauty of truth-telling and scholary research in a most dignified manner. It does not assign blame, it powerfully connects how things that happened in the past is embodied in the present, and continues to exist in the future.

I believe that Dr. Craig Steven Wilder has gifted us, human kind, with a wealth of knowledge about the creation of educational institutions in America ... the soul of our American civilization.

I am still amazed at how money is raised in the name of one group, but the money is mainly used to finance yet another group.

I would highly recommend this book for all, especially professional educators ... the so called, "keepers-of-the-gate." At this time, I cannot imagine a masters or doctoral degree being conferred without a class using Ebony & Ivy as its core.

Thank you, Dr. Wilder. Thanks to the many who helped to facilitate this scholary work.

In addition, Dr.Wilder, your interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! is gracious, scholarly, magnificent ...!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Lucey Bowen on October 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a searing, factual indictment of the American colonial elite, New Englanders not excepted, for their unapologetic participation in the slave trade and the subjugation of non-white persons. For once and for all, it makes clear the close connections between the mercantile, social, intellectual and religious leaders of the north and the south in the two centuries before the Civil War.
I give it only four stars because the author seldom stops to merciless parade of examples to help the reader see the broader implications.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cygnet on January 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Despite its poetic title, this is a very serious book discussing a less than pleasant topic – the permeation of slavery throughout the early history of the English colonies, and ultimately the United States, and its influence in establishing the American academic community. To say I enjoyed the book is to demean the brutal circumstances discussed in the book. Let me say instead, that the book reads like an unpublished doctoral thesis: It is well written and achieves its goal of educating the reader, nay, inducting the reader, into an awareness of the skillfully disguised, little disclosed, underlying roots of the history of education in America. Fully one-third of the book consists of notes and citations.

And yet, while clearly an academic work, the book is woven in such a way as to grasp the attention and interest of the reader. Dr. Wilder documents the stories of real people with a style that takes seemingly dry facts and fashions a wholeness of reality. Then, based on seeing reality in that way, the reader can recognize the veracity of the disheartening thesis. Interestingly enough, I believe that what makes this work so powerful is that where some authors would be most emotional (and emotionally attached to the thesis), Dr. Wilder simply piles more facts on the table. The reader cannot help but nod in acknowledgement of the obvious.

The financial foundation of the American educational system is indeed traceable to the profits gained from the ownership of enslaved people and the suppression of the native peoples of America. Why do we need to know this? We do not need to know this in order to feel guilty, but instead, to understand that nothing happens in a vacuum. We need to know this in order to feel grateful to all who have contributed to our society.
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