- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; 1st Paperback Edition edition (March 4, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674002113
- ISBN-13: 978-0674002111
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America 1st Paperback Edition Edition
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When Americans look at slavery, they conjure up images of tired black bodies picking cotton from sunup to sundown under Southern skies. That image is partly true, but, as the noted history professor Ira Berlin details, the lives of slaves in America's racist system were complex and diverse. "Viewing slavery through the perspective of what slaves did most of the time," Berlin writes, "provides a means to draw some fundamental distinctions and find some essential commonalities among the various experiences of North America."
Berlin reveals the color-caste codes of the Afro-Creoles of the Chesapeake, the survival of African culture in the South Carolina-Georgia-Florida coastal area, and the intermingling of Africans with French and Spanish in the Mississippi Delta area. He weaves a woeful and wondrous tale of the mores, occupations, conflicts, wars, and rebellions that made up the ongoing relationships between masters and slaves. Many Thousands Gone is an excellent companion to Philip D. Morgan's Slave Counterpoint, revealing the influence the "peculiar institution" of slavery had on those of African and European descent alike. --Eugene Holley Jr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The history of slavery in North America is not as simple, clear-cut or tidy as is often believed. That is the message of this impeccably presented history of American slavery from 1619, when John Rolfe brought "twenty Negars" to the Jamestown colony, to the 1820s, when the spirit of emancipation began to take hold in the North. Berlin, a history professor at the University of Maryland, shows how at different times and at different places, slavery was a very different thing. He makes a great distinction, for example, between slave societies such as the Carolina low country in the 17th century (in which both the economy and the social structure was built upon slavery) and societies with slaves (the lower Mississippi of the same era) where slavery was only part of a more complex structure. He shows how slavery was different for those born in the West Indies, Africa and North America, and for those serving in urban settings (which encouraged a certain entrepreneurial spirit) and in rural. These distinctions have continuing resonance, as Berlin shows that once a society with slaves became a slave society, all blacks?free or not?could come to be regarded as slaves: in short, how an economic system became racism. Although the prose is serviceable more than anything else, the book holds many surprises gleaned from the facts, whether in its portrait of New York as a major slave city or its descriptions of free enterprise at work among slaves. The economic and historical research presented here is impressive. But what gives the book an additional dimension is its deftly employed social insights.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Berlin's primary (and well-documented) thesis is that slave culture was not one monolithic culture, but several different cultures depending upon the era and the area of North American enslavement. Additionally, Berlin highlights that slavery was racist and classist, an interpretation which does not minimize the evils of racism, but also exposes the evils of classism.
Though in other works by the same author, readers find first-hand accounts of the horrors of slavery in the words of the enslaved, such documentation is less evident in this work. An increase in such documentation would have strengthened the already excellent "Many Thousand Gone." Still, the overall message and "feel" of "Many Thousands Gone" does accurately and powerfully depict the agony and inhumanity of African American slavery.
Berlin engages the important issue of the slave's choice of or refusal to choose the master's religion. Including a small sampling of the slave narratives (the majority of which evidence acceptance of Christianity) and the myriad slave conversion accounts, would have provided added depth to this fine book. Converting slaves, by their own accounts, did not see themselves as converting to their masters' religion. Instead, they saw themselves rejecting their masters' hypocritical distortion of Christianity and receiving Christ and Christianity, cleansed of lies and replete with the message of eternal freedom spirituality and internal freedom in Christ.
For the broad panorama of early enslavement, look no further than "Many Thousands Gone."
Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction , Soul Physicians, and Spiritual Friends.
Kindle needs to get on the ball with footnotes and make them accessible for all books. I've read some non-fiction/history that have easily accessible footnotes, but I would rather have bought the hard copy of this one.