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In this groundbreaking historical exposé, 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. Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageou In this groundbreaking historical exposé, 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. Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery. The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies that discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system. Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Slavery by Another Name 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. It also reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the modern companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the system’s final demise in the 1940s, partly due to fears of enemy propaganda about American racial abuse at the beginning of World War II. Slavery by Another Name is a moving, sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.


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In this groundbreaking historical exposé, 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. Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageou In this groundbreaking historical exposé, 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. Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery. The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies that discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system. Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Slavery by Another Name 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. It also reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the modern companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the system’s final demise in the 1940s, partly due to fears of enemy propaganda about American racial abuse at the beginning of World War II. Slavery by Another Name is a moving, sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.

30 review for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    This book was fascinating and eye-opening. I grew up in the south, but I admit to being shamefully ignorant of post-emancipation slavery. In school we were taught that slavery existed, and it was awful-terrible-bad, and that Lincoln freed the slaves, and then... nothing. Nothing until the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. It's like the 100 or so years in between just didn't even exist to my history teachers. It was all just "Nothin' to see here... nothing to see here at all. Keep moving." Shamefu This book was fascinating and eye-opening. I grew up in the south, but I admit to being shamefully ignorant of post-emancipation slavery. In school we were taught that slavery existed, and it was awful-terrible-bad, and that Lincoln freed the slaves, and then... nothing. Nothing until the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. It's like the 100 or so years in between just didn't even exist to my history teachers. It was all just "Nothin' to see here... nothing to see here at all. Keep moving." Shameful. I knew that racism and white supremacism never went away, but I never imagined the ways that slavery would just be adapted and re-legitimized after owning people as property was made illegal. It's just shocking how intricate the system of re-enslavement was, and how widespread, and how accepted - if not EXPECTED... though I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Not being able to own a human as chattel doesn't suddenly negate the attitude that they SHOULD be owned. It just creates an environment in which you have to get a little bit creative to do so. And having a government that all but ignores reports of slavery always helps. *sigh* This book should be required reading. That is all.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Petra can see again but through a smoky lens

    What is slavery? Is it the absence of any right to self-determination? Is it being bought and sold in the same way as livestock? Does bonded labour fall into its definition? Is it being free to work for a pittance and obey the Man's rules and regulations, which might be made up on the spot if your face doesn't fit and then suffer the consequences from a beating, to imprisonment, even death? I don't know how America defined slavery but it was obviously in a fake and euphemistic way if the Governm What is slavery? Is it the absence of any right to self-determination? Is it being bought and sold in the same way as livestock? Does bonded labour fall into its definition? Is it being free to work for a pittance and obey the Man's rules and regulations, which might be made up on the spot if your face doesn't fit and then suffer the consequences from a beating, to imprisonment, even death? I don't know how America defined slavery but it was obviously in a fake and euphemistic way if the Government can say it ended in (variously, according to state) between 1863 and 1865 actually teach that lie in schools. Because, in the South, right up until WWII it remained legal to buy and sell people. I don't want this to turn into an essay. It is a very, very good book, written in a very readable manner and I recommend it to everyone, everywhere, but especially those in the US and those that have some influence on what their education board decides their children should be taught. Children have a right to know the truth if they are going to repair old enmities and move forward into a world which drops the divisions and sings that lovely old kiddies' song, 'the more we are together the happier we will be'.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leonard Timmons

    I sort of knew lots of this. I did not know how close I was to it. If you live your life for the sole purpose of acquiring wealth, there is no limit to the evil that you can and will do. The amazing thing is that you will never admit that evil to yourself. It seems right. So very right. This book helps to explain a lot of the dysfunction in the Black community. Not all of it, of course, but living under slavery and having that followed by 75 years of government-ignored terrorism changes a culture I sort of knew lots of this. I did not know how close I was to it. If you live your life for the sole purpose of acquiring wealth, there is no limit to the evil that you can and will do. The amazing thing is that you will never admit that evil to yourself. It seems right. So very right. This book helps to explain a lot of the dysfunction in the Black community. Not all of it, of course, but living under slavery and having that followed by 75 years of government-ignored terrorism changes a culture and a people. Having initiative can destroy you and possibly your entire family. Taking the initiative takes courage or stupidity or both. It's really hard to eliminate that from a culture. Slavery and the vicious thing that followed it was a failure of our ability to believe what we could see: black people are just people. That inability was enabled by our nations ability to profit from its blindness. Yet there came a time when we decided that the overall wealth of the nation would be enhanced by the ability of black Americans to fully participate in our economic system. We've learned that the ability to freely compete enriches us all. Those who depend on anticompetitive measures like slavery actually impoverish the nation. The question we have to ask ourselves is, "What is America doing right now that reduces competition and thereby makes us poorer?" That is the challenge of this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vannessa Anderson

    Slavery by Another Name lays out the Tea Party’s entire platform! Slavery by Another Name follows the life of Green Cottenham who was arrested on March 30, 1908 by the sheriff of Selby County, Alabama, and charged with “vagrancy” and in walking in his footsteps author Blackmon shared what he’d learned about the politics of the day and how those politics and slavery were synonymous then as they are today. Slavery: … that slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Slavery by Another Name lays out the Tea Party’s entire platform! Slavery by Another Name follows the life of Green Cottenham who was arrested on March 30, 1908 by the sheriff of Selby County, Alabama, and charged with “vagrancy” and in walking in his footsteps author Blackmon shared what he’d learned about the politics of the day and how those politics and slavery were synonymous then as they are today. Slavery: … that slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentlemen here is born a petty Tyrant. Practiced in Acts of Despotism & Cruelty, we become callous to the Dictates of Humanity, & all the finer feelings of the Soul. Taught to regard a party of our own Species in the most abject & contemptible Degree below us, we lose that Idea of the dignity of Man which the Hand of Nature had implanted in us, for great & useful purposes. –George Mason, July 1773 Virginia Constitutional Convention A few things I learned (passages taken directly from book) Unlike the victims of the Jewish Holocaust, who were on the whole literate, comparatively wealthy, and positioned to record for history the horror that enveloped them, Cottenham and his peers had virtually no capacity to preserve their memories or document their destruction. The black population of the United States in 1900 was in the main destitute and illiterate. For the vast majority, no recordings, writings, images, or physical descriptions survive. …”everything has to bend, give way to large crops of cotton, land has to be cultivated wet or dry, Negroes to work hot or cold.” Under these circumstances, slave owners came to accept that black laborers would also die quickly. “The Negros die off every few years, though it is said that in time each hand also makes enough to buy two more in his place,” wrote planter James H. Ruffin in 1833. By the beginning of the Civil War, railroads owned an estimated twenty thousand slaves. The desire of white farmers to recapture their former slaves through new civil laws was transparent. In the immediate wake of emancipation, the Alabama legislature swiftly passed a measure under which the orphans of freed slaves, or the children of blacks deemed inadequate parents, were to be “apprenticed” to their former masters. A few of the things you will learn • Whites saw the money spent in black schools as the only viable source of additional funds for their own children. • In the legislative session of 1892, white leaders simply changed the law so that school taxes were no longer distributed among all schools in equal per pupil allotments … it would be to local officials to divide the money among schools “as they may deem just and equitable.” • …states legislated that African Americans could not legally be hired for work without a discharge paper from their previous employer—effectively preventing them from leaving the plantation of the white man they worked for. • The roles the U.S. Supreme Court, Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, Sloss-Sheffield Iron and Steel and other major corporations whose products you buy played in slavery. • You’ll learn that the code words used then are not unlike the code words used today. It was simply amazing to learn of the many ways those in power used to keep blacks in slavery after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. In fact, author Blackmon writes that slavery didn't truly end until 1945. The American Indians had their “Trail of Tears” and The Long Walk. The Japanese had their internment camps. The Jews had their Holocaust and yet, the American people have not learned from the past. What I especially liked about Slavery by Another Name is that it didn’t waste my time with blame, anger or hate. The story was told in a non-threatening factual manner. Slavery by Another Name is a book that should be read by everyone and should be required reading and open for discussion at the high school and college levels.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karen Davis

    First, let me acknowledge how difficult this book was for me to read. Not due to the writing but the topic and detail. It was emotionally wrenching and Blackmon painstakingly filled each page with names and scenarios of the most cruelest brutalities…because he delved so deep into the research I found myself wanting to honor the men and women and children he had given name to by absorbing and reflecting as much as I could handle until I completed the book. Have you ever experienced an understandin First, let me acknowledge how difficult this book was for me to read. Not due to the writing but the topic and detail. It was emotionally wrenching and Blackmon painstakingly filled each page with names and scenarios of the most cruelest brutalities…because he delved so deep into the research I found myself wanting to honor the men and women and children he had given name to by absorbing and reflecting as much as I could handle until I completed the book. Have you ever experienced an understanding so vivid that you have difficulty even breathing? The continuum of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (widespread physical and psychic devastion and how it collectively effects the whole group) was laid before me and how the discrepancies and injustices present in our justice system just kept running rampant in my mind. I know we sometimes do not want to acknowledge how oppression has operated in our past and present and we want to isolate occurrences as if they have no history, and even when we do, we speak in generalized speech. Blackmon names names and ties those name to present wealth of today’s companies. He does so by researching legal, prison, and company documents and presenting details in a narrative form. After making the connections to how many individuals and corporations gained wealth at the expense of unjust prison labor system that randomly subjugated Black men, women and children to enslavement and continued risk of brutal death, Blackmon even reached out to present-day corporations to enlighten them on how their companies were built on the backs and lives of unjust prison slavery that lasted well into the 20th century. The book begins with the search for the details of the life of one person, Green Cottenham, who was killed in a prison camp while still a young man in his 20s. The search leads the reader through the lives of others on both sides of this horrendous practice with the revelation of how widespread this practice was across the South and how later on it was sustained by industrialists of the North and how the Department of Justice handled (or not) the investigations of the practice. He eventually takes us to his attempts to connect with Cottenham’s living descendants and personalizing his work by connecting it to his interest from when he was a 12 year-old child in Louisiana

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I read this for a Race and Diversity class in college and while the subject matter was fascinating and horrifying, the writing was lacking. The author focuses on the statement that every child learns in elementary school: Slavery ended after the Civil War - and proves how false that statement is. It was enlightening and terrible at the same time. I had no idea how ignorant I was about that section of America's history. African-Americans were basically re-enslaved for 75 years through the use of I read this for a Race and Diversity class in college and while the subject matter was fascinating and horrifying, the writing was lacking. The author focuses on the statement that every child learns in elementary school: Slavery ended after the Civil War - and proves how false that statement is. It was enlightening and terrible at the same time. I had no idea how ignorant I was about that section of America's history. African-Americans were basically re-enslaved for 75 years through the use of the legal system. In the South they would pick African-American men off the street for non-existent offenses such as "vagrancy" or "offensive acts" - which could mean almost anything - convict them, charge them exorbitant fees that they couldn't pay, and then sell them to lumber mills, coal mines, and the rail roads to work off their debt. When those men got there, the conditions were inhuman, they were whipped and beaten daily, and for most of them no records were kept of their court appearance and conviction, so they had no way to leave. Most died within the first few months, and the few that survived were once again in a lifetime of servitude. This only ended in 1941 because the country needed African-American men to fight in World War II and to actually believe in the cause and their country. I took one star off for the writing, not the subject matter. I found the authors style to be repetitive and heavy-handed. He also tried to follow one family and man throughout the years of this new form of slavery and it didn't work at all. There was no personal attachment for me for this character he tried to create. I understand that he was trying to get his point across and make sure readers understood how awful this system was, but he didn't have to repeat everything multiple times. I do recommend the book however because I don't think nearly enough people are aware of what was going on in the South between 1867 and 1941.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert Federline

    This book is shocking until one remembers that the history studied in school, and in the popular books, is that which was written by the winners. In the case where it was not a declared war, but rather an internal conflict, the ruling class's perspective controls. This is why there has been so little candidly written about the decimation of the Irish in the potato fame due to the hard-heartedness of the English. This book now reveals the shame in the United States in race relations following the This book is shocking until one remembers that the history studied in school, and in the popular books, is that which was written by the winners. In the case where it was not a declared war, but rather an internal conflict, the ruling class's perspective controls. This is why there has been so little candidly written about the decimation of the Irish in the potato fame due to the hard-heartedness of the English. This book now reveals the shame in the United States in race relations following the Civil War up to modern times. Even having lived through the turbulent 1960's and the Civil Rights Movement, it is hard to believe that racisim was so institutionalized as revealed by this book. Racism is now viewed primarily as an issue of personal attitudes and prejudices. This book glaringly exposes how those attitudes were not only a majority viewpoint, but were adopted and promoted by the government and private industry, working hand-in-glove with one another. Most adults today would tell you that slavery was ended by the Civil War, followed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. Most educated people realize that the Emancipation Proclamation was more symbolic than practical in ending slavery, since it only applied to states which were in rebellion, and would have meant absolutely nothing had the North not won the war. The 13th Amendment was thought to abolish slavery. It states, in part, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, . . . shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." This would have stopped the abominable practice, but for the loophole represented in the foregoing quote by the ellipsis. That loophole reads "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." Southern legislatures were quick to take advantage of this exception and quickly created a corrupt system of laws so that the exception would devour the rule. Vagrancy legislation became de rigueur. The methods of conviction were so lax as to be non-existent. Because the methods had the appearance of law, the re-enslavement of African Americans was accepted without comment or qualm. The fact that it existed so long -- that it encroached so deeply into the twentieth century and its institutions. The system of slavery was changed, and persisted, because of systemic prejudice in the lives of the people. The horror of slavery existed in the first place only because of the arrogance of some people thinking that they were better than others for purely superficial reasons. Such a basis of prejudice continues, even today, in society. Unfortunately, it is not only within the ignorant masses, but even among those who are well-educated. It is because of this insidious systemic prejudice that slavery was allowed to exist, and continued in altered forms. This book is a warning. Evil will persist as long as the good turn a blind eye, and are willing to accept superficial excuses for the subjugation and oppression of others. The methods used to suppress others have simply become more sophisticated. While the dishonorable enslavement and selling of people to corporations, as revealed in this book, may no longer be taking place, we must be ever on guard against such evil as it diminishes all who are involved, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Only by recognizing the inherent dignity of all men, and judging each man on his own merits, rather than by stereotypes and in group condemnations, can the human race progress. We must recognize that the human race is the only race, and we will lose the race, unless we support and run together.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rosemari

    I am conflicted with rage and sorrow after finally finishing Douglas A. Blackmon's "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II." The complicity of numerous Corporations (U.S. Steel, etc.) and our United States government in all its racist glory, that allowed the dirty South to continue its practice of absolute inhuman subjugation, mass murders, and mortal terror of African Americans after our so-called emancipation, must be addressed somehow I am conflicted with rage and sorrow after finally finishing Douglas A. Blackmon's "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II." The complicity of numerous Corporations (U.S. Steel, etc.) and our United States government in all its racist glory, that allowed the dirty South to continue its practice of absolute inhuman subjugation, mass murders, and mortal terror of African Americans after our so-called emancipation, must be addressed somehow, someway, someday. An apology is a condescending dismissal of a wrong as great as the Jewish Holocaust! This "neoslavery" did not end "officially" until 1945, but continued for some African Americans into the 1960s. Meanwhile, there is no remorse, no true corrections for this holocaust, instead there are continued inaccurate historical revisions in our children's text books; continued hostile resentment for Affirmative Action which couldn't even begin to right the wrongs; continued profiles that inference us as ignorant, immoral and poverty-stricken due to our own lack of grit and ingenuity. Collectively it silently screams: Black people are simply inferior to most Americans and the world who do not know this history. It has successfully shamed too many of us into not writing about these wrongs in ways that must be done, much as the plethora of literature in all genres is persistently published and produced about the Holocaust! Thank you Douglas Blackmon (although you fell short when it came to the question of reparations). How dare anyone who can read, NOT read this book! Not knowing about this period of our history which affects us so greatly today, should be as wrong and ridiculous as denying the Holocaust. There are other books about this period, "Black Prisoners and Their World, Alabama, 1865-1900" by Mary Ellen Curtin, and others which I intend to begin searching for immediately. But next I am opening the pages of "The Ballad of Blind Tom: Slave pianist, America's lost musical genius" by Deirdre O'Connell. I welcome all suggestions of books about the our "neoslavery" history.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alexandria

    I expected this book to rehash the well-known civil rights abuses that took place between the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movements a hundred years later, but in fact it did so much more than that: it taught me things about US history and slave history in the US which I had never known. The book meticulously documents how slavery continued "underground" after emancipation on a vast, all-encompassing scale through the various machinations of the US legal and corporate system, protec I expected this book to rehash the well-known civil rights abuses that took place between the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movements a hundred years later, but in fact it did so much more than that: it taught me things about US history and slave history in the US which I had never known. The book meticulously documents how slavery continued "underground" after emancipation on a vast, all-encompassing scale through the various machinations of the US legal and corporate system, protected at every level under the broad umbrella of "progress", how the North turned a blind eye, and on and on. It's a terrible, intimate portrait of one family and the economic and political situation which encompassed them in a whirlwind of oppression, but at its heart it's a very important, overlooked part of American history whose legacy continues through the present day. It was perhaps this post-bellum period which sowed the seeds of contemporary race politics and relations in the US more even than slavery itself. it created a blueprint for future generations of white men for how they can keep men (especially) of color on their knees even beyond Civil Rights with full protection of the the legal system and corporate America. This is the post-emancipation history we never learned in school. Highly recommended. I listened to the audiobook, perfectly narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    In his epilogue, Blackmon asserts that "In every aspect and among almost every demographic, how American society digested and processed the long, dark chapter between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the civil rights movement has been delusion." This popular history -- frequently revelatory and unrelentingly horrifying -- aims to correct such delusion. As the title makes plain, Blackmon describes the institutions that emerged to establish and maintain the forced labor of African Ame In his epilogue, Blackmon asserts that "In every aspect and among almost every demographic, how American society digested and processed the long, dark chapter between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the civil rights movement has been delusion." This popular history -- frequently revelatory and unrelentingly horrifying -- aims to correct such delusion. As the title makes plain, Blackmon describes the institutions that emerged to establish and maintain the forced labor of African Americans for a half century after nominal Emancipation. Nobody who has paid even casual attention to matters of race in the American twentieth century should be entirely surprised to read that African-American life in the post-Reconstruction South was shaped by serfdom, peonage, and convict labor. But Blackmon's account does surprise the reader (this one, at least) with its meticulous mapping of the extent to which neo-slavery, and the legalized brutality undergirding such slavery, permeated the industrial as well as agricultural economies of the postbellum South.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    You must read this book. It was jaw dropping. Slavery did not end with the civil war. This excellent book tells a story that is part of this country's history and that is not talked about. It's also a fascinating read. You must read this book. It was jaw dropping. Slavery did not end with the civil war. This excellent book tells a story that is part of this country's history and that is not talked about. It's also a fascinating read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Craig

    This Pulitzer winner is a good one. I knew nothing about the prisoner enslavement system post-Civil War. Eye-opening. This is a must read for anyone interested in civil rights.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fritz Graham

    Oh boy. Where do I begin? I think I’ll start when I first saw the PBS documentary based on this book. It was a Friday night and I landed on PBS because that’s what I normally did/do on a Friday night. I think that my wife had already gone to bed. Anyhow, I switched from some game (football/basketball) to PBS and saw the opening montage and credits. Decided to park myself in front of the television and watch. Ugh. Ugly, un-thug tears were shed. Happened after I saw Sankofa several years back, but Oh boy. Where do I begin? I think I’ll start when I first saw the PBS documentary based on this book. It was a Friday night and I landed on PBS because that’s what I normally did/do on a Friday night. I think that my wife had already gone to bed. Anyhow, I switched from some game (football/basketball) to PBS and saw the opening montage and credits. Decided to park myself in front of the television and watch. Ugh. Ugly, un-thug tears were shed. Happened after I saw Sankofa several years back, but that’s a different story. Anyways, this documentary jogged my memory of my “Slavery and Freedom in the New World” course and how my professor described how my typical college poverty would have been considered grounds for arrest and being charged with vagrancy. More importantly, my professor described the ways in which laws passed through the old Confederacy specifically targeted the lives and experiences of African Americans. Black life was criminalized and then this criminalization was used as a basis for exploitation by many of the titans of industry and empire building in the south and, over time, the north. In many ways, this book precisely describes the information that my professor imparted to me all those years ago. The next logical step was to read the book, but I actually didn’t get to it until now. So, the sum up, my journey to this book was long and did not follow a conventional path. However, I’m glad that I made the stops that I made along the way and that I’m coming into more details of what went on in the country in the wake of Reconstruction’s dismantling. With those things said... I admire the way that he weaves personal stories drawn from missives he encountered over the years. They’re captivating, but above all else, the stories are depressingly common, it seems. There are stories about black men and women, living in their primes, taken from families and friends over crimes that would not warrant responses like the ones they encountered if they were white. I’m glad that he mentions the intent behind these laws and how they interacted with social codes by which black-white relations must operate. Breakdown in the social context was precisely what whites of all socioeconomic backgrounds feared the most, particularly through the old confederacy (we’ll put a pin in the argument that these instances of state-based segregation were only endemic to the south. Those experiences are different, but that’s beyond the scope of this review). I maintain that his weaving of these stories with data. It’s almost (heavy emphasis on almost) like he conducted a mixed-methods research project. What would have made it better (or again, worse) if more space was devoted to the experiences of those flowing between the chain-gangs in the mines, the sharecroppers and those caught-up in the lend-lease process. This book is required reading for anyone calling themselves educated in American history. If there isn’t a proper description of the ways in which slavery was not abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation’s passage or the issuance and ratification of the 13th amendment, then people will continue to be deprived of learning how free black labor did, and does continue to, support the rapid growth in white wealth. Moreover, it directly challenges the idea that “bootstrap pulling” is the only way one makes jumps in social mobility. Many of these systems were designed and maintained in such ways that regardless of circumstances, African Americans must stay squarely at the bottom. From the laws on the books to those tasked with enforcing these laws to those rendering judgement, it’s quite clear that the systems upon which Western/American society is built is done in such a way as to ensure the integrity of this system regardless of the decade. My ultimate fear is that because our country does not have actual working knowledge of this past, we may be doomed to repeat many of these atrocities. One only need look at the proliferation of the private prison industrial system, payments demanded for the privilege of probationary supervision, and the Supreme Court’s recent decision to say that convicted felons who’ve been arrested for being in the country without valid papers can be held indefinitely. It lays the foundations for creating a permanent underclass of workers tasked with providing us many of the trappings of life (e.g. lingerie) to physical safety (e.g. fire fighters). It’s no wonder that with 45’s ascendency to the presidency, stocks in private prisons went up. Sure enough, 45 reversed an Obama-era decision to no longer house federal inmates in for-profit institutions. Lots of people are going to make a lot of money because of a loophole in a constitutional amendment intended on eliminating a race-based system of indentured servitude . It seems not enough time has passed for us to have learned our lesson. This book is good. It’s hard (and some of the language used by the author is dated), but it’s a valuable piece of work for those needing an account of such awful events.

  14. 5 out of 5

    C.

    Everyone should read this book -- the fact that almost no one knows about one of the most horrific chapters in our nation's recent history is shocking. In fact, "shocking" describes most of this book; like "King Leopold's Ghost," its both depressingly real yet so horrific as to defy belief. In the epilogue, Blackmon says we need to rename the "Jim Crow Era" the "Era of Neoslavery" in order to reflect the reality of what was actually taking place. Did you know that, until the 1950s, it was NOT a Everyone should read this book -- the fact that almost no one knows about one of the most horrific chapters in our nation's recent history is shocking. In fact, "shocking" describes most of this book; like "King Leopold's Ghost," its both depressingly real yet so horrific as to defy belief. In the epilogue, Blackmon says we need to rename the "Jim Crow Era" the "Era of Neoslavery" in order to reflect the reality of what was actually taking place. Did you know that, until the 1950s, it was NOT a federal crime to own slaves? That's just one of the countless facts that are so egregiously terrible that you would think everyone would know them, yet they have been hidden away into a collectively sustained amnesia. In stories that quickly become hauntingly and horrifically repetitive, Blackmon tells of the hundreds and thousands of African Americans who were enslaved after the Civil War -- and as late as World War II. A few courageous individuals tried to speak out, but judges, sheriffs, and most of America looked the other way, especially since states and corporations were getting rich off the torturous, forced labor these slaves provided. As people who live in a prosperous nation whose wealth was build not just on antebellum slavery but slavery that lasted nearly half-way through the 20th century, we all have a responsibility to at least know that history.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction in 2009 - this is an exceptionally well researched book. The author presents overwhelming evidence of the brutal Peonage system that existed in the Deep South for one hundred years after the Civil War. 4 stars. Heavy on facts I found the writing style to be a little weak with lots of disjointed paragraphs that were only vaguely related. I would have liked to see more of a cohesive narrative style - at least it would have made the stories more interesti Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction in 2009 - this is an exceptionally well researched book. The author presents overwhelming evidence of the brutal Peonage system that existed in the Deep South for one hundred years after the Civil War. 4 stars. Heavy on facts I found the writing style to be a little weak with lots of disjointed paragraphs that were only vaguely related. I would have liked to see more of a cohesive narrative style - at least it would have made the stories more interesting.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helga Cohen

    This must read Pulitzer Prize winner by Blackmon depicted a devastating aspect of America’s history that is most shameful and ugly. This book cogently explains how slavery did not end with the Civil War. It sheds light on the systemic and calculated willful creation of a system of “neo-slavery” that replaced slavery after the civil war when it should have been abolished. It is totally unforgivable how the United States treated our black citizens after the Civil War. The new slavery was replaced b This must read Pulitzer Prize winner by Blackmon depicted a devastating aspect of America’s history that is most shameful and ugly. This book cogently explains how slavery did not end with the Civil War. It sheds light on the systemic and calculated willful creation of a system of “neo-slavery” that replaced slavery after the civil war when it should have been abolished. It is totally unforgivable how the United States treated our black citizens after the Civil War. The new slavery was replaced by a devastating system of legal oppression that made incarceration of the black men a desirable and profitable practice and component of economic business profitability. They put in laws to arrest these men for vagrancy, talking too loud and other fabricated charges. They would jail them because they could not pay their fines and then they would pay their debts and get them out but put them to work in brutal conditions in mines, plantations, railroads and other jobs. It was extremely brutal. This was an eye opening must read book. It really explores the impact of racial injustice with our country that did not end until after World War Ii though racism continued with Jim Crow laws until the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David

    Slavery didn't end at emancipation. I honestly didn't realize how pervasive it was. The number of companies and industries that built their wealth and influence on the backs of unpaid mostly black laborers is staggering. By treating blacks like criminals, some in law enforcement would arrest people for small infractions (often loitering), charge them a fine they couldn't pay, have them sign a contract they couldn't read, and then offer to pay the fine in exchange for labor, all under the guise o Slavery didn't end at emancipation. I honestly didn't realize how pervasive it was. The number of companies and industries that built their wealth and influence on the backs of unpaid mostly black laborers is staggering. By treating blacks like criminals, some in law enforcement would arrest people for small infractions (often loitering), charge them a fine they couldn't pay, have them sign a contract they couldn't read, and then offer to pay the fine in exchange for labor, all under the guise of keeping them out of jail. They would then never allow the fine to be paid back. Employers would buy and sell these contracts among each other (this way the weren't selling human beings, just contracts). The history told in this book was painful to read, I found myself physically grieving at several points throughout. Slavery by Another Name offered me some much needed perspective.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandra D

    This book was a little too long, a bit slow in spots, occasionally repetitive, and there were even a couple of typos -- and I'm still giving it five stars. It was that amazing. This book was a little too long, a bit slow in spots, occasionally repetitive, and there were even a couple of typos -- and I'm still giving it five stars. It was that amazing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    Contrary to what is largely taught in the education system, the Civil War did not end slavery. Far from it. In fact, slavery was allowed to continue for decades despite the mechanisms of the Emancipation Proclamation and various other laws which were enacted, but never enforced. Abuses were ignored. When land owners and businesses were prosecuted, they were either acquitted or let off with laughably lenient sentences only to return to their old ways. This book is a detailed examination of the sy Contrary to what is largely taught in the education system, the Civil War did not end slavery. Far from it. In fact, slavery was allowed to continue for decades despite the mechanisms of the Emancipation Proclamation and various other laws which were enacted, but never enforced. Abuses were ignored. When land owners and businesses were prosecuted, they were either acquitted or let off with laughably lenient sentences only to return to their old ways. This book is a detailed examination of the systematic way in which slavery was allowed to continue well into the WWII era. It is an unsettling truth of America's original sin, and this book uncovers the ugly reality and details of how this went on for so long. The cruelty and magnitude are hard to stomach. I was however somewhat surprised at his conclusion that the impetus for dismantling slavery formally was the result of the lessons of the Holocaust. I don't discount that this had an impact, but the case made in his book strongly suggests to me it was largely brought on and fostered by changing industrial technology which greatly diminished the need for manual labor. He got to the end of the book and then seemed to abandon the economic argument he was making - a little puzzling. Overall an excellent body of work and enlightening read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    SibylM

    This is another of my "everyone interested in American history should read this book" titles. I think it is a great tandem (or precursor) read with The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. This is another of my "everyone interested in American history should read this book" titles. I think it is a great tandem (or precursor) read with The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    This country's history is even worse than I thought This country's history is even worse than I thought

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    #ColinKaepernick #HistoryOfJusticeInAmerica #BLM This author provided an exceptional detailed description of how slavery continued long after the Civil War and the resulting emancipation proclamation. Once slaves were "free," Southerners came up with creative and extremely effective ways to keep black men working for free. While this book is a must read on the subject, I would urge anyone interested to read David Oshinsky's Worse Than Slavery, an even better book about how freed black men were re #ColinKaepernick #HistoryOfJusticeInAmerica #BLM This author provided an exceptional detailed description of how slavery continued long after the Civil War and the resulting emancipation proclamation. Once slaves were "free," Southerners came up with creative and extremely effective ways to keep black men working for free. While this book is a must read on the subject, I would urge anyone interested to read David Oshinsky's Worse Than Slavery, an even better book about how freed black men were re-enslaved. Blackmon echoes much of what Oshinsky wrote ten years before the writing of this book. To get an even more complete understanding of the re-enslavement from the end of the Civil War until now, meaning the current re-enslavement of black men and women in America today, I would suggest reading Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, which continues the story both Oshinsky and Blackmon told so well in their books. In his book, Blackmon focused on how private prisons successfully stripped black men of the freedoms they had been given under the law after the Civil War. Black men and women were no longer supposed to be forced to work in slave conditions for no wages, no way to own land, and no voice in politics. Since slavery was no longer legal, powerful men in the South went about making new laws that would once again make it legal to target black human beings and force them to work for free, stripping them of any power to make a decent life for themselves and their families. One significant consequence of the new laws was that a prior slave owner could punish former slaves for being free. They don't want to work for free? Well the former slave owners would teach those 'uppity N's" a lesson. The vagrancy law made it illegal for men to not have a job. A former slave owner could refuse to hire black men to work for money, have them brought up on charges of not working (vagrancy), have them sent to prison, charge the black man for his own imprisonment, and make him work off his time and/or fines doing the very jobs slaves had been doing when slavery was legal. Black men continued to pick cotton, mine coal, and build railroads-- all without compensation. What is worse, if you can imagine anything being worse than slavery, is that unlike slave owners, who needed their "investment" healthy enough to keep working, prisons who leased out black men could make them work in the cotton fields or railroads when the sun was up and then make them work in the mines when the sun was down. They worked so many slaves to a quick grave, the death toll in the prisons was astounding. They didn't need to protect the investment. They could just round up more black men on made up charges and force them to slave away every hour of their lives until they dropped dead. Then they would simply round up more. To make the laws looks fair, the Southern lawmakers put laws on the books that were supposed to pertain equally to white and black people. However, in reality, just like we see today, black people were targeted for the same actions committed by white people. Black people were arrested for those actions while white people generally were not. This had the effect of rounding up a significant portion of the black population to ensure slavery would live on. There is much talk today of ramping up the numbers of private prisons. I mean, it sounds like it makes a lot of sense to make criminals pay for themselves. After all, I sure don't want to have to pay for a criminal's food, shelter, medical care, education, clothing, or anything else. They did the crime, they should do the time and pay for their time there! Right? Well, that only works in a perfect world with a perfect justice system. The American justice system is in crisis. In the Western World, we are the leader in incarceration. It take a lot of money to confine that many individuals. However, if we make the "criminals" pay, we are encouraging the corruption of our justice system to an even greater degree. We are encouraging the enslavement of many innocent people. The reason for this is not stated in the book because it was written in 2008 and scholars have mapped out the patterns of lawyer-lawyer and layer-client interaction in a much more complete way. That research tells us that since we are the leader in the number of people incarcerated in the Western World, our justice system is overloaded. What was once an adversarial system, where lawyers fought against each other, is now a system in which lawyers work together to enter pleas. This means that many innocent people plead guilty to things they did not do because they are afraid of getting an even worse punishment if they don't. There are many people working on prison reform, but it will take a really long time to make progress. In the meantime, it is extremely important that the general public read books like Blackmon's, Oshinsky's, and Alexander's so that they have a better understanding of how we Americans are not as free from our past shameful deeds as we thought we were. It's often so difficult to see the harm we cause while we are doing it. It often takes decades or centuries for atrocities to be written about in the history books before we really get a good idea of what went wrong. Blackmon's book does a great job of explaining what went wrong after the Civil War. I am sure it was unclear to the vast majority of the population at the time. However, Blackmon put it all out there, in black and white, in a way that brought all the facts together and made it very difficult *not* to see what harm continued to occur. It's easy to slap the label "criminal" on someone. It dehumanizes them, makes it easier to lock them in a cage, make them work themselves to death for no money, force them to be apart from their families. But are all "criminals" actually criminals? A surprising amount of black men, whose stories are told in this book, were clearly not criminals. What do you call it when you label someone a criminal so that you can lock them up and make them work for free? Who is the criminal in that scenario? Reading this book makes it almost impossible not to ask yourself, who are the criminals today? Are all the people in jail criminals? How sure are we? What are the consequences of not being sure? What are the consequences of knowing that it is certainly the case that many innocent black men and women are in jails and prisons? It is certainly true that there are also many black men and women in prisons who are guilty of crimes. However, when it comes to drugs (you can read more about that in the New Jim Crow), a significant amount of black people, who are likely guilty of doing or selling drugs, are locked in cages while a significant number of white people who also did and sold drugs are *not* locked in a cage. If white men and women did the *same* action as the black men and women but the black men and women got punished for it at much higher rates, is it about the action or is it about the color of their skin? If, when you review all the evidence, it turns out it's about the color of their skin (which it is), then we have a serious race problem here in America, more than 150 years after slavery was supposedly abolished, and more than 50 years after the Civil Rights bill that was supposed to ensure equal rights for *all* citizens. When Colin Kaepernick takes a knee, as a form of peaceful protest, this is what he is protesting. Until it is justice for all, we need to keep protesting, educating ourselves with books like this, and above all else, we must refuse to become complacent. I saw reading this book, and others like it, to be my duty as a citizen. If I am not informed about the sneaky ways politicians go about oppressing whole groups of people, I have no way to fight against it. Books like Blackmon's and others are some of the best weapons against racism because you cannot fight what you don't understand. I am thankful to Blackmon for his part in helping me continue to understand the race problems America has faced.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tom Johnson

    1865, the South surrenders - 1945, slavery ends. And if you doubt that then read this book. And if you still doubt it...well, that's why we have a Trump as "president". Slavery by Another Name, Douglas A. Blackmon. 1865, The south was reduced. Southern Alabama would take forty years to match its agricultural output of 1860. Things learned: post Civil War violence was mostly white on white. Given the background of devastated state governments, there was a great deal of such violence. Confederate a 1865, the South surrenders - 1945, slavery ends. And if you doubt that then read this book. And if you still doubt it...well, that's why we have a Trump as "president". Slavery by Another Name, Douglas A. Blackmon. 1865, The south was reduced. Southern Alabama would take forty years to match its agricultural output of 1860. Things learned: post Civil War violence was mostly white on white. Given the background of devastated state governments, there was a great deal of such violence. Confederate and Union deserters had formed guerrilla units, creating their own laws through murder and terror. One group called themselves the “Uglies”. I am sure they were. The myth that whites had to pass Jim Crow laws to protect themselves from the crimes of freed slaves has it all backwards. The recreation of slavery by selling convicts into forced labor was without merit. It was done for vengeance and profit and for base sexual gratification. The long history of the formal and informal legal machinery instituted to subjugate the African slaves was quickly adapted to the new post-Civil War reality. The physical world of the South may have been destroyed but the understanding that white rule was absolute and not to be questioned never wavered. Trumped up charges of minor crimes supposedly committed by blacks were used to create thousands of convicts who were then sold as virtual slaves. Plantations, and the rising southern industries such as; iron and coal mining, lumbering, turpentine camps, and vast construction projects bought these reincarnated slaves by the many thousands. There was never a shortage of commercial interests ready to resume the slave trade. The terror of being forced into the mines, etc., was more than enough to keep millions of black Americans in a servile state of abject poverty. Following Grant’s two terms in the White House, the freed slaves were bereft of anyone with political clout willing to fight for their newly won rights. 1883, The Supreme Court effectively gave legal cover to the inhumane practice of involuntary servitude. Page 93, “…a declaration by the country’s highest courts that the federal government could not force states to comply with the constitutional requirement of the equal treatment of citizens, regardless of race, opened a torrent of repression.” The worst practices of slavery never slackened until the post WWII years. If the execrable Gorsuch is confirmed to the US Supreme Court, we will once again find ourselves drifting back to the open repression of racial minorities. 1912, The Republican Party allowed African Americans to be thrown out of the southern party organizations. So much for the party of Lincoln. October 16, 1901, the accidental president, Theodore Roosevelt, invited a black man, Booker T. Washington, to dine with him at the White House. A huge scandal ensued. As a nation, we still struggle with priorities. Email, or who uses a particular restroom, or running a charity, these picayunes are amazingly HUGE. Who knew? I am convinced that Hillary lost the White house because, as George Wallace would have said, she was “out-niggered”. Pardon me for this aside, but it must be said. From Wikipedia, “Prior to his first campaign for governor in 1958, George Wallace served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives and later as judge in the Third Judicial Circuit Court. During this time, Wallace was known as a moderate on racial issues, and was associated with the progressive, liberal faction of Alabama politics. During the 1958 gubernatorial campaign Wallace spoke out against the Ku Klux Klan, and although he endorsed segregation his centrist views won him the support of the NAACP. In contrast, his opponent John Patterson accepted the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan and made racial issues a major part of his campaign. Previous Alabama governors had run successfully on moderate platforms similar to the one Wallace adopted in 1958. However, the growing Civil Rights Movement, especially the Montgomery Bus Boycott three years earlier, had left white Alabamans feeling "under siege," and Patterson won the race for governor by a large margin. After this defeat, Wallace determined that in order to be elected governor he would have to change his position on racial issues. He told one of his campaign officials "I was out-niggered by John Patterson. And I'll tell you here and now, I will never be out-niggered again." Trump “out-niggered’ Hillary. Those gentle snowflakes, white people, were under siege by the scary Black-Lives-Matter people. They found comfort in the arms of the racist orange buffoon. From our national anthem, “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave”, the first half is true if you are white, the latter is true whether white or black. We need to make the first half true, black or white. Read “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward E. Baptist and its sequel, “Slavery by Another Name” by Douglas A. Blackmon then tell me again how wonderful we are. Oh, I know, there are plenty of neo-Nazis out there who will do precisely that. We can do better. Page 243, said of the early twentieth century, “A venomous contempt for black life was not just tolerated but increasingly celebrated.” The book provides myriad examples. That many examples of lynching by “law enforcement” authorities can still be read in today’s daily news is beyond depressing. Even common citizens can become murderous celebrities through the thinly veiled, racist stand-your-ground laws found throughout the nation. Needless to say, standing your ground through the use of deadly force is much easier when you are white. The crux of the book can be stated through some quotes found on page 390: “Indeed, the commercial sectors of the U.S. society have never been asked to fully account for their roles as the primary enforcers of Jim Crow segregation, and not at all for engineering the resurrection of forced labor after the Civil War.” “But it was business that policed adherence to America’s racial customs more than any other actor in U.S. society.” “It was wealthy men on Wall Street and in the executive suites of southern banks that financed the organized opposition to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” And from page 394-395, “…an unsettling truth that when white Americans frankly peel back the layers of our commingled parts, we are all marked by it. Whether a company or an individual, we are marred by our connections to the specific crimes and injuries of our fathers and their fathers to fulfill our national credos...We are formed in molds twisted by the gifts we received at the expense of others. It is not our “fault”. But it is undeniably our inheritance.”

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    I will admit that I was a bit hesitant at first with this book. It seems there has been quite a few books come to my desk that are a bit brutal about the South in particular and the US in general. I was half expecting this to be another of the countless books that wish to heap blame on the south and want to further stir racial resentments for the author’s economic gain. I am so pleased to say that I did not find that to be the case with this book. Rather, I found a very interesting story that n I will admit that I was a bit hesitant at first with this book. It seems there has been quite a few books come to my desk that are a bit brutal about the South in particular and the US in general. I was half expecting this to be another of the countless books that wish to heap blame on the south and want to further stir racial resentments for the author’s economic gain. I am so pleased to say that I did not find that to be the case with this book. Rather, I found a very interesting story that needed to be told, something that is never mentioned in schools or by our grandparents. After the War of Northern Aggression, a defeated South was further victimized by the Carpet baggers that sought complete humiliation of the defeated. These people looked to entirely recreate the social order. Whites were no longer to be alone at the top. With the right to vote and loans ensuring their ability to buy land, former slaves were advancing further than many thought possible. Yet, that came to a screeching halt even before the end of Reconstruction. The old South’s ways would not go so easily. The White’s started using the power of contracts to reclaim their former slaves. Offering extremely unfair contracts that reasserted the old hierarchy, the South was able to impede the rise of the African Americans. Slavery by Another Name is a tragic tale of the enforce slavery of African-Americans through the legal system. It seems that Blacks were arrested for the pettiest of crimes and then given outrageous sentences. The counties and states then leased the prisoners to industry that worked these people to death in some cases. The book follows one family and shows just how much was changed from the civil war to World War II. Prisoners were used to created foundries and to mine iron in Alabama. They were used on the railroads and other public works projects. Slavery By Another Name should be required reading for everyone, showing the evil aspects of a government that does not value the freedom of the individual and the ultimate tragedy in an obtrusive government that is aided by the segments that benefit from the behemoth government.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I found this worthwhile reading in that it contains a great deal of information that I think most of us do not know about the plight of "emancipated" blacks after the Civil War. As far as that information and the research obviously required to present it, this is an exceptional book. The writing, however, left a lot to be desired. I have three main issues with it: 1) It was plodding and slow in parts as the author submerged us in excessive, irrelevant details. He passed along metric tons of info I found this worthwhile reading in that it contains a great deal of information that I think most of us do not know about the plight of "emancipated" blacks after the Civil War. As far as that information and the research obviously required to present it, this is an exceptional book. The writing, however, left a lot to be desired. I have three main issues with it: 1) It was plodding and slow in parts as the author submerged us in excessive, irrelevant details. He passed along metric tons of information that he seemed to think interesting or salacious but that had nothing to do with his point. 2) The tone was snide and anachronistic, which I can understand as a person of modern conscience but which I think is unhelpful in a book about historical events and persons. The (white) author was also puzzlingly prone to making sweeping generalizations about and condemnations of whites, which were often not even necessary. The facts really speak for themselves. 3) As the title begins to suggest, the author confusingly conflates different terms for philosophical/ideological reasons, e.g. the otherwise fascinating topic of "convict-leasing" is alternatively identified as such and called "slavery." Again, I see his point, but it was needlessly confusing when the next page uses the word "slavery" to refer to the more commonly known pre-emancipation bondage. The similarities were apparent enough without sacrificing clarity in this way. All in all, I think the book is worth reading if only because the information in it is important and rarely taught, but I felt about it kind of as I do Bob Dylan songs-- wow, that's really great and interesting, I wish someone else would sing it instead.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    I’m blown away. Overwhelming sadness for the untold thousands of African-Americans persons brutalized in the aftermath of Reconstruction. Think slavery “ended” with the conclusion of the Civil War? Douglas Blackmon’s meticulously researched history will open your eyes if you have the fortitude to read it. More later when I’ve had a chance to let my emotions settle down.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aeric

    i can't say enough about how important this book is. it totally blew my mind and significantly rearranged my understanding of american history in the first half of the 20th century. my knowledge of the end of slavery in this country was shockingly incomplete. brilliantly written and researched, this is essential reading. i can't say enough about how important this book is. it totally blew my mind and significantly rearranged my understanding of american history in the first half of the 20th century. my knowledge of the end of slavery in this country was shockingly incomplete. brilliantly written and researched, this is essential reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution What a key phrase, "except as a punishment for crime". When I started reading this book, I wrote, "I think this is going to be a challenging book, but not as challenging as some books such as Stamped from the Beginning or the New Jim Crow." I could not Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution What a key phrase, "except as a punishment for crime". When I started reading this book, I wrote, "I think this is going to be a challenging book, but not as challenging as some books such as Stamped from the Beginning or the New Jim Crow." I could not have been more wrong. This is one of the hardest books I've ever read. The book is broken into three sections. The first third provides and introduction and shows how the South used this phrase to restore slavery, but in a manner that was even less humane than actual slavery! With actual slavery, the slaves knew they were slaves and there was a social contract with slave owners to care for their slaves in their old age/infirmities. In the new slavery, this notion no longer existed. The second section was the part that I struggled with. The second section dealt with the early efforts of the Teddy Roosevelt administration to purge the South of this new form of slavery. It focused on a few legal cases and expanded from there. In reading this section, I better understood the reasons why black America started to turn away from the Republican Party. While the Democratic Party was no better at the time, the betrayal of the Roosevelt administration was heart breaking. The failures to accomplish anything and the legal arguments utlized to instill the re-enslavement of blacks was disgusting. After that, the third section was not as challenging---but it was still difficult. What makes this book particularly hard---for me---is the fact that I've lived all over the world. My dad was in the Air Force. I lived in Prattville, Alabama for about a year after college. I remember the attitudes that existed in Alabama in the 1990s. Prison reform was an active discussion then. As I remember it, there were discussions about the ending of forced physical labor, allowing prisoners access to cable TV, and air condition. The general sense was that the prisoners, whom everybody knew were largely black, had committed the crimes, then they deserved the punishment. And this was in the early 1990s! I also remember being so thankful to have moved away from the state because it normalized racist attitudes. So the fact that this book was set in Alabama---and that the Pratt's were a recurrent theme---hit me on a personal level. While I have read some Pulitzer Prize winners and thought, "Yeah, I understand why this book won the Pulitzer" this was the first book that I've read and thought, "Had any other book won the Pulitzer that year, it would have been an injustice." This book is an incredibly challenging book and I dare you to read it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mark E. Smith

    Slavery has not yet ended in the USA, but most people aren't even aware that it didn't end after the Civil War. Today the laws are more sophisticated, the courtrooms bigger, the proceedings always carefully recorded, but we have more prisoners than any other country in the world and they are disproportionately Black and "guilty" of nonviolent crimes. Torture, beatings, inadequate food, and lack of medical care are still common in US prisons, but prison officials have gotten better at hiding thin Slavery has not yet ended in the USA, but most people aren't even aware that it didn't end after the Civil War. Today the laws are more sophisticated, the courtrooms bigger, the proceedings always carefully recorded, but we have more prisoners than any other country in the world and they are disproportionately Black and "guilty" of nonviolent crimes. Torture, beatings, inadequate food, and lack of medical care are still common in US prisons, but prison officials have gotten better at hiding things and blaming the victims. The media and the public are all too ready to go along. I think that things are going to get worse, not better. Although the US now has a Black President, so did many African countries like Uganda, and Idi Amin cannot be said to have improved the conditions of Blacks. Obama invaded and destroyed Libya, the country with the highest standard of living in Africa and where Blacks were treated with respect as equals, and has ignored the fact that the new regime he supports has been massacring Blacks. He has been dropping drone bombs and/or supporting Al Qaeda in Mali, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Syria and has sent US AFRICOM troops to 35 African countries. If he succeeds in recolonizing Africa, he or subsequent US administrations will need to encourage anti-Black sentiments in order to maintain control and prevent revolutions, and these sentiments will be adopted by much of the US public as being "patriotic" and in support of "national security," as US Blacks might be sympathetic to the plight of Africans once they understand what is going on. I agree with most reviewers that this book should be required reading, and while it is necessary in order to understand our situation, it is not sufficient. We must extrapolate from the past into the present and the future. Our military and many huge multinational corporations are now dependent upon US prison labor, which is just as cheap and more convenient for them than foreign labor. The military-industrial complex will not allow reforms that could increase the costs of our wars of aggression along with corporate costs of obtaining resources and doing business. Mark my words: Slavery has not ended in the United States and it is being globalized. Already we have no idea what is going on in our secret prisons overseas because they're secret. And we have supermax prisons here in the US where communications with the outside world are not allowed. Due process is no longer required to detain or kill US citizens. These are not temporary aberrations, they are fundamental to our capitalist system. Cutting labor costs is a way to maximize profits, and while lowering labor costs is helpful, eliminating labor costs to the greatest extent possible is still the best way to increase profits. Yet there are still millions of people who believe that this is the best system in the world and that this is the way that things were meant to be. With the industrial and military pollution of the planet has come climate change beyond our abilities to control. Will anyone survive to write the history of slavery in our time as Blackmon has done for earlier times?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    I had no idea that this was the next chapter of the south after emancipation. This book tells the story of one Green Cottenham, from his familial slave roots to his own death in the coal mines of Alabama. The author attempts to tie Green's story with that of thousands of African Americans who were unfairly arrested, ordered to pay outlandish court fees and, eventually "leased" to white farmers and industrialists in a state-sponsored convict leasing system. The book goes into detail of the shocki I had no idea that this was the next chapter of the south after emancipation. This book tells the story of one Green Cottenham, from his familial slave roots to his own death in the coal mines of Alabama. The author attempts to tie Green's story with that of thousands of African Americans who were unfairly arrested, ordered to pay outlandish court fees and, eventually "leased" to white farmers and industrialists in a state-sponsored convict leasing system. The book goes into detail of the shocking abuse suffered by prisoners who were arrested on such petty charges as cursing or vagrancy and then suffered a life of peonage with brutal beatings and murders at the hands of their "captains". Most interesting to note, is that this "neo-slavery" did not really end until World War II, when the government became concerned that the Japanese & Germans would use our treatment of African Americans against us and finally made it explicitly illegal to engage in any form of slavery, a determination they skirted around for over 70 years. It was only then that the government began to take on these many peonage cases. The African Americans that fought in WWII came back changed men, and they were the very same men who planted the seeds of the civil rights movement that blossomed 20 years later. Also of note is that Blackmon tracked down Green Cottenham's descendants during his research for the book. I was very surprised by their disinterest in learning anything about their past and certainly not about slavery. Even when Blackmon offered to meet them and share with them all he learned, they declined. I gave the book four stars because I felt the author's arduous details actually derailed the momentum of the book. However, I feel it's an important read for any American who wants a better understanding of the race resentment so prevalent in pur country, but should be required reading for all African Americans.

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