From Publishers Weekly
Eminent historian Berlin revisits and extends by a century the territory of his honored and groundbreaking Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in America (1998), incorporating the "vast outpouring of new research in this field" in the brief period since its publication and mirroring that book's structure. In 150 or so pages here, Berlin recapitulates the argument of his earlier, prize-winning work, delineating "the making and remaking of slavery" as a matter of "Generations": the "Charter Generations," who managed "to integrate themselves into mainline society during the first century of settlement, despite their status as slaves and the contempt of the colony's rulers"; the "Plantation Generations," living in a world where "blackness and whiteness took on new meaning," who managed "to forge new communities as `Africans,' an identity no one had previously considered or even knew existed"; and the "Revolutionary Generations," beneficiaries, victims, and participants in both the "revolutionary ideology [and] evangelical upsurge" of the period. Berlin, president of the Organization of American Historians and an editor of the Remembering Slavery project, is attentive to place as well as time, and focuses first on New Netherland, the Chesapeake, and the North, followed by variants in Florida, the Lower Mississippi Valley and Low Country South Carolina. New to this book are "the Migration Generations," who suffered a Second Middle Passage with the accelerated transcontinental "transfer" of slaves between 1810 and 1861. An epilogue introduces the "Freedom Generations," reaching into the 1860s. While preserving the terrible complexity and diversity of North American slavery, Berlin offers a compact scholarly account of the transformation of a society with slaves into a slave society. He reveals without condescension or simplification the inspiring social structures that arose from a horrific history. While it may not get the attention of Many Thousands, this book follows up with grace and determination.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Although American slavery is generally thought of as dominating and being dominated by the culture, politics, and economics of the South, Berlin charts the dynamic quality of American slavery by placing it into the changing context of American history and various generations overall. The experience of the original settlement population adapting to their new environment produced what Berlin calls the chartered generation. Most often associated with slavery is plantation life and the plantation generation, which reflected the western and southern expansion of the nation as cotton became king of the economy. Following the plantation generation was the revolutionary generation, when worldwide views on slavery and freedom influenced domestic politics and culture. Berlin reflects on the contrasts between the southern experience of slavery and the north's experience and challenges with its freedmen. The Chesapeake, or upper south, was for a period the region that dominated the internal slave trade and facilitated further regional redistribution of slaves. Finally, Berlin examines the migration generation, the substantial shift in the black population to the north and west. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved