Summary and book reviews of Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackmon

Slavery by Another Name

The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

by Douglas A. Blackmon

Slavery by Another Name
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2009, 496 pages

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Book Summary

In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—an “Age of Neoslavery” that thrived from the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II. Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Douglas A. Blackmon unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude shortly thereafter. By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.

Chapter I

The Wedding

Fruits of Freedom

Freedom wasn’t yet three years old when the wedding day came. Henry Cottinham and Mary Bishop had been chattel slaves until the momentous final days of the Civil War, as nameless in the eyes of the law as cows in the field. All their lives, they could no more have obtained a marriage license than purchased a horse, a wagon, or a train ticket to freedom in the North. Then a final furious sweep of Union soldiers—in a bewildering blur of liberation and terror unleashed from a distant war—ravaged the Cahaba River valley.

Henry was suddenly a man. Mary was a woman, a slave girl no more. Here they stood, bride and groom, before John Wesley Starr, the coarse old preacher who a blink of an eye before had spent his Sundays teaching white people that slavery was the manifestation of a human order ordained by God, and preaching to black people that theirs was a glorified place among the chickens and the pigs.

To most people along the ...

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  • award image

    Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music
    2009

  • award image

    Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music
    2009

Reviews

Media Reviews

St Louis Post-Dispatch

[A] formidably researched, powerfully written, wrenchingly detailed narrative of the mistreatment of millions of blacks in America, mistreatment that kept African-Americans in shackles of the body and mind long after slavery had officially ended.

The New York Times

Shocking. . . . Eviscerates one of our schoolchildren's most basic assumptions: that slavery in America ended with the Civil War.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The genius of Blackmon's book is that it illuminates both the real human tragedy and the profoundly corrupting nature of the Old South slavery as it transformed to establish a New South social order

Chicago Tribune

An astonishing book. . . . It will challenge and change your understanding of what we were as Americans-and of what we are.

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

The torment that Mr. Blackmon catalogs is, if anything, understated here. But it loudly and stunningly speaks for itself.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Blackmon's book reveals in devastating detail the legal and commercial forces that created this neoslavery along with deeply moving and totally appalling personal testimonies of survivors. Every incident in this book is true, he writes; one wishes it were not so.

Author Blurb Harriet A. Washington author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present.
To read this book is to cross an intellectual Rubicon: Once opened, you will no longer find it possible to relegate slavery to the distant past. Once opened, this book will change you, and how you perceive race relations in America.

Author Blurb Jay Winik, author of April 1865: The Month That Saved America and The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World.
For those who think the conversation about race or exploitation in America is over, they should read Douglas Blackmon’s cautionary tale, Slavery by Another Name. It is at once provocative and thought-provoking, sobering and heart-rending.

Author Blurb Bill Cosby
Urgent, definitive, powerful. The most important work of history published in a very long time.

Reader Reviews

Terry

Deeply flawed work of fiction
Blackmon is looking for credibility, stating he is from the South. However, his deeply flawed work of fiction exposes his prejudices. Blackmon offers very little real evidence for most of his statements about the condition of blacks in the South. And...   Read More

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