Finally Telling the Other Half: A Taste of Baptist's New Book on Slavery & Capitalism
It's not every day in the historical profession that you get so much truth packed into a few thousand words.
Coming up on my must-read list is Edward Baptist's new book about slavery and capitalism, The Half Has Never Been Told. Not sure if I'll be able to spring the whole thing on my undergraduate students in African American History, but this excerpt, reprinted in Salon, will rock some worlds all by itself.
As much as I've studied how slavery was woven into the very fabric of the nation, even after this quick read I can SEE it in my mind's eye much more clearly. (I'm probably going to dream tonight of the great and horrible image toward the end of the piece, of the metastatic giant body of slavery spreading out across the South.) This is cogent, illuminating historical writing, and I am grateful for it. Looking forward to digging into the whole thing over winter break!
In recent months Baptist's work has been the subject of more-than-usual interest online (for a scholarly text), beginning with the publication, and quick retraction, of an astonishingly myopic review in the Economist. I get what it's all about: clearly exposing the ghastly truth of where much of the modern world comes from is bound to stir up trouble. Bring it on!