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Worse Than Slavery [Kindle Edition]

David M. Oshinsky
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $10.34
You Save: $5.61 (35%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc


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Book Description

A Simon & Schuster eBook. Simon & Schuster has a great book for every reader.

Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

Oshinsky's beautifully constructed narrative brings to vivid life one of the most shameful chapters in American history.

From Booklist

Historian Oshinsky uses Mississippi as a paradigm for the shameful history of black injustice in the South between the post^-Civil War demise of slavery and the post^-World War II rise of the civil rights movement. Since its admission to the Union, Mississippi had been a violent place, as the author relates; and brutality to blacks was simply a part of Mississippian culture. After the abolition of slavery, in most white Mississippians' minds, something else had to be arrived at for "keeping the ex-slaves in line." Thus laws were passed designed to maintain white supremacy, particularly when it came to controlling black labor. After a discussion of the deplorable practice of convict leasing, a system whereby people could "hire" prisoners for physical labor outside the walls of prison, the author turns his attention to Parchman Farm, the state penitentiary, "a sprawling 20,000-acre plantation in the rich cotton land of the Yazoo Delta." What transpired behind the fences of Parchman Farm since its founding in the early part of this century is a horror story told here through a rigorous study that should be accorded an important place on the U.S. history shelf. Brad Hooper

Product Details

  • File Size: 1024 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0684830957
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 23, 2008)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0037B6QGG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,749 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing yet fascinating southern history January 18, 1999
David M. Oshinsky's "Worse than Slavery": Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice, tells yet another piece of recent, uncomfortable American history which must not be forgotten. Mississippi, like other southern states after the Civil War, did not deal well with freed blacks, and developed the system of "Jim Crow justice" which, in many respects, replicated slavery. Initially, the state leased prisoners -- usually blacks -- to private individuals, usually to pick cotton and do other heavy labor. As Oshinsky presciently concludes, this resulted in a more onerous existence for the black contract workers than when they were slaves. Owners, at least, had a vested interest in keeping their slaves fed and clothed, as they represented a substantial investment of capital. Persons leasing convict labor had no such capital investment, and, as a result, had no incentive (other than humanitarian, which, Oshhinsky notes, usually begged the question in white southern minds as to whether blacks were "human" at all) to keep workers from starving or working to death. The system of convict labor, considered "enlightened" by many at the time - and a great source of profit for the State - was an exercise in barbarism.
Parchman Farm, a huge cotton plantation in the Mississippi delta, represented an improvement, in that Mississippi itself owned and operated the farm and tended to feed and house the convicts. The system, however, was far from just, in that prisoners were armed and chosen to guard their fellow inmates, profit was a main goal and justification of the system, and no effort was made to rehabilitate the inmates.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The title says it all..... February 1, 2005
The title says it all: "Worse than Slavery": Parchman Farm and the ordeal of Jim Crow justice. The author supports this bold statement well by documenting the rise and fall of the Southern penal farm, with its brutality, corruption and racism. In order to put Parchman farm in perspective, Oshinsky details the atmosphere of reconstruction in Mississippi, and how the resentment and bias against African-Americans led to racial violence, and eventually a system of forced incarceration. While unlike slavery insofar as it applies to a smaller percentage of blacks, Oshinky demonstrates that the inmates on Parchman farm were worse off than slaves. Furthermore, he also proves that the convict leasing and convict farm programs reinforced the social hierarchy of the white race being superior to the black.

The book's subtitle indicates that it's primary focus will be Parchman Farm, a Mississippi correctional facility that housed mostly black convicts. However, the first 100 pages don't even deal with Parchman; instead, the author discusses the convict leasing system that preceded the penal farm. Convict leasing reflected the consensus belief that African-Americans were fit for hard labor and little else. Leasing involved a corrupt and biased legal system, which placed unfair "court costs" on black males that would only be paid off by hard labor as a convict. According to Oshinky's research, the laborers would have to work long days in harsh conditions with little or no shelter. While a lot of the inmates would die from the extreme working situations, the people of Mississippi cared very little; the leasing system gave former plantation owners access to cheap labor and reinforced racial stereotypes.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In hindsight, almost make you ashamed....... December 3, 2003
Rather an amazing book on one of the darker sides of American society in the south, it almost unbelievable that until just a short generation ago, such a way of life was generally accepted by the white people of the south. Concept of Jim Crow justice seem so un-American that its small wonder why black people today don't wholly trust the white people. The book deals around the Parchman Farm and the Mississippi prison system but I supposed something like this took place all over the southern states during the Jim Crow era. Its a shock to the system but probably a must read material for any one who is interested in the social history of the southern people.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let the Midnight Special Shine its Light on Me November 23, 2008
Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice
Parchman Farm

"By 1915, Parchman was already a self-sufficient operation. It contained a sawmill, a brick yard, a slaughterhouse, a vegetable canning plant, and two cotton gins. In design, it resembled an antebellum plantation with convicts in place of slaves. Both systems used captive labor to grow the same crops in identical ways. Both relied on a small staff of rural, lower-class whites to supervise the black labor gangs. And both staffs mixed physical punishment with paternalistic rewards in order to motivate their workers.'

In short, Parchman Farm was a farm with slaves." ("Worse than Slavery")

Parchman Farm was known throughout the south as a bad place to go. It was memorialized in song and fiction. ("The Midnight Special" was the train that the convicts' wives and girlfriends rode for conjugal visits; and Faulkner's short story "Old Man" is about two Parchman inmates sent out to help in the Flood of 1927)
It was predominantly black. Once you were inside, it was hard to get out(alive. at any rate )Most convicts served fixed terms and parole was a relatively new concept.
It used a system in which "trustees," usually men convicted of violent crimes and who were quick to fire their shotguns at escapees, supervised the rest.

It was expected to, and usually did, return a profit. In fact, it was a major contributor to Mississippi's economy. The system it replaced, known as "convict leasing," was, if possible, worse. And rehabilitation was not high on the Prison Superintendent's agenda. The superintendent was a farmer, not a social worker.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic on post war America
What happened after the Civil War is most important. Here is the grueling, terrible story involving its black survivors and their descendants.
Published 1 month ago by Stewart Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Scholarship
David Oshinsky's treatment of the subject is very scholarly and even-handed; he leaves it to the reader to pass judgment on the deplorable practices described herein.
Published 1 month ago by John Hart Bandas
4.0 out of 5 stars Schocking
A sad commentary on white America in those years following emancipation. It is troubling to realize that humans can actually treat others this way. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Albert L. Townley
5.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunate.
This story, again, should be required reading in high school. Very informative and yet difficult to understand that we can treat people like this in the U.S.
Published 4 months ago by Sita Milchev
5.0 out of 5 stars How slavery still hurts America
Outstanding books, they give good details on history eevnts in this country. Also, they show how mean spirited American people were. Read more
Published 5 months ago by TRACY L. DAWKINS
5.0 out of 5 stars The Material In This Book Should Be In Every American History Textbook
Before reading this book I thought to myself what in the world could of been worse than slavery well the answer to that question is in this book.
Published 6 months ago by AlanWarner
5.0 out of 5 stars worse than slavery, Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice
This book is very interesting showing lives of men held at Parchman Farm and the things they had to endure while their.
Published 6 months ago by Bertha Powe
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blight on America's Record
Five Star rating stands for "I Love It" in the Amazon Review System, but there is nothing to love about what is recounted on the
pages of this book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Aaron_Baha'i
4.0 out of 5 stars Parchman prison long ago and not so long ago.
The writing of the book , as bad as it seems, is really prison history that will never be like that again in Ms or any other State. Read more
Published 8 months ago by carmel e johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read!
In his book, Worse Than Slavery, Oshinsky documents the rise and fall of the Southern penal farm. By exposing Parchman Farm, the current state penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta... Read more
Published 10 months ago by jeanhee kang
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