From Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize-winner Davis follows Challenging the Boundaries of Slavery with this impressive and sprawling history of "human attempts to dehumanize other people" that focuses extensively on slave rebellions. These counter-attempts, Davis argues, are what form the base of the identities and communities of the descendants of New World slaves. In charting the evolution of slavery and societies' responses to it from 71 BCE to 1948, Davis author shows how ancient slavery practices mirrored the process of animal domestication, explores the moral conflicts the United States faced during the American Revolution and how the Haitian revolutions disrupted the class system. A lengthy and especially informative study of British and American abolitionist movements paves the way for a concise breakdown of American slavery politics during the Civil War and reconstruction. Davis's account is rich in detail, and his voice is clear enough to coax even casual readers through this dense history.
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History professor Davis places American slavery in the broader global context as part of the world's first system of multinational production from which mass markets were served. American slaves from West Africa produced commodities that fueled European expansion and the settlement of America. At its peak, American slave labor helped to maximize production for international markets. Davis emphasizes the dehumanizing nature of American slavery and the reliance on racial differences, i.e., between blacks and Native Americans, to solidify social and economic differences. Exploring the origins of antiblack racism, Davis examines nineteenth-century slave revolts, the Civil War, and emancipation. The Amistad
case, involving African slaves who commandeered their slave ship and eventually sued for their freedom, provides the basis of an analysis of multinational charters of the Atlantic slave trade. The broader perspective on American slavery--its social and economic impact on the growth of the U.S.--forces readers to face the contradictions between our democratic ideals and economic impulses. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved