- Used Books
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
- Let's Talk Books
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
This item may be
Check for Availability
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II
Synopses & Reviews
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 systems 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.
"Wall Street Journal bureau chief Blackmon gives a groundbreaking and disturbing account of a sordid chapter in American history — the lease (essentially the sale) of convicts to 'commercial interests' between the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th. Usually, the criminal offense was loosely defined vagrancy or even 'changing employers without permission.' The initial sentence was brutal enough; the actual penalty, 'reserved almost exclusively for black men,' was a form of slavery in one of 'hundreds of forced labor camps' operated 'by state and county governments, large corporations, small time entrepreneurs and provincial farmers.' Into this history, Blackmon weaves the story of Green Cottenham, who was 'charged with riding a freight train without a ticket,' in 1908 and was sentenced to 'three months of hard labor for Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad,' a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. Cottenham's sentence was extended an additional three months and six days because he was unable to pay fines then leveraged on criminals. 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history, the late 1870s through the 1940s when thousands of African-American men were arbitrarily arrested, hit with fines, charged for room and board in state and county jails, and then forced to work off the debt as unpaid laborers.
In this groundbreaking book, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history. From the late 1870s through the mid-twentieth century, under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, thousands of African American men were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for room and board in state and county jails. With no means to pay these “debts,” prisoners were required to work them off. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by landowners and forced into unpaid labor. In an iniquitous system, governments leased wrongly imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and large corporations—including U.S. Steel—looking for cheap and abundant labor. In factories, mines, lumber camps, quarries, and on farms throughout the South, armies of "free" black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and forced through extreme physical coercion to do the bidding of white masters. Revenues from neo-slavery poured into Southern state treasuries. The system was finally ended only in the 1940s, partly due to fears of enemy propaganda about American racial abuse at the beginning of World War II.
Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME is a moving, sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of white racism that reverberates today.
About the Author
DOUGLAS A. BLACKMON is the Atlanta Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared often on NPR and CNBC and reports on race, economics, and culture. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Average customer rating based on 2 comments: