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The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book is a rich, fascinating--and highly readable--conclusion to Davis's great trilogy. His body of work on slavery has left all the rest of us who have studied or written about this subject in his debt. Most historians tend to have one particular angle of vision that becomes their hallmark, but not Davis. I cannot think of another historian who comes at his subject so thoughtfully from so many different angles: the history of ideas, the influence of religion, psychological dynamics, the closely-examined lived experience of slaves, their masters, and slavery's opponents across centuries, countries and continents.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Outstanding scholarship. Not for light reading. The footnotes are extensive and essential to a complete understanding of the text. The information is far and beyond anything I have ever read in any history class or other text. It is a sobering analysis of the issues related to slavery and current attitudes concerning race relations.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This may be the best history of the abolition movement available. Even though Davis doesn't neglect the ethics and cruelty of slavery it's much better than the usual maudlin coverage of those issues. To generate this extensive detailed reference work he's generous in citing other authorities like Bernard Fogel, Eric Foner, Walter Johnson, and Amanda Foreman. It focuses on the morality, brutality and economic viability of slavery.

Most interesting is the economic analysis which I'm not sure I agree with. He shows how Slavery in the Western Hemisphere was a very profitable enterprise and extrapolates that to a consensus that without the CW slavery in the USA would likely have persisted well into the twentieth century. He points out that an immoral economic system can be profitable and viable. For this case I think he places too much emphasis on the high price of slaves and on demand from expansion into Texas. If price outstripped productivity that could have proven to be a bubble. He cites many authoritative studies, anti-bellum and modern, to substantiate his point, but curiously omits Halpern Helper, who I had thought was influential in his day. He does go back to Ben Franklin who said that slavery was more expensive than free labor. He emphasizes the importance of free blacks in demonstrating the utility and groundless fears that inhibited emancipation.

The colonization movement is tracked as Davis follows the politics of the ACS and its popular leaders and advocates from Madison to Lincoln. Also interesting is the controversy over gradual versus immediate emancipation. There seems little about the idea of compensation. Davis points out that the EP only freed slaves of those not loyal to the USA. More was needed, resulting in the Thirteenth Amendment.
The history stops short of the modern era although there are allusions to Jim Crow laws and pointing out that Nazism depended on enslaved peoples.

The course of emancipation programs in other countries is most interesting. Davis shows ambiguous economic results of the apprenticeship system as implemented in Jamaica and Antigua. He studies development of the issue of gradual vs immediate emancipation in US and elsewhere. The book is very good on relationships with other nations, especially Great Britain, whose emancipation program moved faster than the US albeit with different motivations and more favorable public opinion. Besides USA slavery, the book relates issues to the emancipation movements in Haiti, Jamaica, Antigua, Cuba and Brazil, some of which turned violent. Especially interesting is the history of abolition in Britain.
Each is surprisingly unique but politically related.

Besides the familiar Garrison and Frederick Douglass, careers of many lesser known figures are depicted including Marcus Garvey, Harriet Jacobs, Sojourner Truth, James Forten and many others. I was especially intrigued by Paul Coffe, black ship's captain and navigator who considered economics and profit as well as morality of colonization, and James McCune Smith, polymath, linguist and freedom writer. It seems that purported black histories ignore some very significant people.

While there is no doubt where Davis stands regarding slavery issues he succeeds admirably in expounding all points of view. A short review can't do justice to this profound study. The memory of this one will make it hard to rate anything else at 5 stars. If I get ambitious I'll tackle one of Davis's earlier books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Intellectural history has no objective standards by which to be judged. Howver, Davis' command of all possible historical records (as far as I can judge), considerable oral history work, and familiarity with most secondary sources makes his book an outstanding source for understanding the "problem" of slavery in the age of Emancipation.
Essentailly, the problem is how did the slave holding states, England and South American as well as the US, shift so dramatically from a world view that slavery was morally justified as well as a necessity to a view that it was evil and replaceable with free labor.
The issue, of course, is extremely complex, but Davis manages to make it comprehensible. Equally impressive is how he demonstrates that Blacks played a vital role in this transformation. That contribution alone should insure his book a place among the best on slavery and as a landmark among works of intellectual history.
Not an easy read but a most informative one.
ernestschusky.com
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a very revealing book. It tells the story that many people especially Caucasians don't know of the slavery period. This should be considered for educational teaching in our public schools. A well researched and written work. Thank you sir..
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on January 13, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Instead of concentrating on the United States, the author shows how US slavery interacted with the wider world, particularly the Caribbean and Europe.
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on November 28, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I would definitely order from Spectrum Books again.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
There is so much history that I was unaware of, but because much of the book is made up of previously published articles or lecture there is a lot of repetition. The editing job was poorly done.
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1 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am very pleased with the Heritage Cross windshirt. It is lightweight and cool. I am tempted to buy more Heritage Cross products.
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