Slavery is at the Heart of America’s Ascendancy

“Among the many virtues of Robin Blackburn’s The American Crucible is its demonstration that slavery must be at the center of any account of Western ascendancy. Without the colonization of the New World, Blackburn notes at the outset, the West as we know it would not exist, and without slavery there could have been no colonization. Between 1500 and 1820, African slaves constituted about 80 percent of those who crossed the Atlantic from east to west. More than any other institution, the slave plantation underpinned the extraordinary expansion of Western power and the region’s prosperity in relation to the rest of the world.” —Eric Foner

Slavery is the beat in the heart of America’s story. Given its centrality to American identity and prosperity we should ask ourselves are we really in an era of post-slavery? Read the rest of Foner’s review of Blackburn’s book in The Nation.

Also see this earlier review by Greg Grandin over at The Guardian.

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