Book Review

The Half Has Never Been Told 

Slavery And The Making Of American Capitalism

by Edward E. Baptist 

This is not a book to be undertaken lightly. It is a hard read, or at least it was for me. It covers not only slavery, which I thought I knew a lot about but war, politics, economics and as the title says, “The Making of American Capitalism.” In his emphasis on the development of capitalism on the backs of slaves, the author does not leave out the inhumanity of slavery and the cruelty with which this population was controlled. 

One of the facts that I never fully appreciated was the sheer number of the enslaved. Millions of people, mostly from Africa, but also from other countries were sold and resold throughout the United States from the beginning of the settlement of this country. These human beings were a commodity like any crop or manufactured tool and depending upon the prevailing economy, their selling price, i.e., their “worth,” might fluctuate from several hundred dollars to well over one thousand. 

It is easy to think of slaves on idyllic southern plantations, but this is the exception as Baptist’s historical account covering 1783 through 1937 makes clear. His research is thorough and well documented in around 700 footnotes and references.

I recommend this book for a more accurate understanding of United States history. I promise it will dispel some of your long-held assumptions and provide a fresh view of today’s race challenges in this country. Actually, I finished this book with a whole new view of how the entire world, not just the U.S. benefited from the ownership of other human beings here in our country. 

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“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Abraham Lincoln

1 Comment

  1. I agree with Abe Lincoln! I’m reading Incidents in the Life of a Salve Girl and how masters rule and control is so ugly. Not only for the blacks, but for all involved. Over time, holding power over another person tends to dehumanize people. The powerful so soon become demonic.

    Liked by 1 person

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