Monday, February 15, 2010

Slavery by Another Name

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II is at times hard to read -- and yet so compelling that it's hard to put down.

Douglas Blackmon, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal discovered the untold story of convict laborers in Birmingham's steel industry. His work on a newspaper article grew through painstaking research in the National Archives, local court records, newspaper archives, and piles of data, resulting in this impressive book.

For decades after the official end of slavery, African Americans were subject to arrest (for vagrancy, leaving a farm before one's employment contract was up, carrying a weapon, and other crimes), perfunctory trials, fines they could not pay, and subsequent "sale" to employers who had them labor in execreble conditions, spending their days and nights in shackles.

Around 1903 a U.S. Attorney in Alabama (with the blessing of Teddy Roosevelt's administration) prosecuted a few of the men involved in this dirty business. Despite convictions, the practice continued for decades.

An important look into U.S. history -- and legal history.

Check it out: E185.2 .B545 2009 at Good Reads.

1 comment:

bookpublisher said...

Powerful and compelling post. I'm going to buy this from Barnes & Noble on Monday. Thank you for sharing.