Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2009
In this groundbreaking historical expose, 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.
Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Douglas A. Blackmon 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 shortly thereafter.
By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.
Engaging, well-researched, fantastic!
I expected this book to rehash the well-known civil rights abuses that took place between the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movements a hundred years later, but in fact it did so much more than that. The book meticulously documents how slavery continued "underground" after emancipation on a vast, all-encompassing scale through the various machinations of the US legal and corporate system, protected at every level under the broad umbrella of "progress", how the North turned a blind eye, and on and on. It's a terrible, intimate portrait of one family and the economic and political situation which encompassed them in a whirlwind of oppression, but at its heart it's a very important, overlooked part of American history whose legacy continues through the present day. It was perhaps this post-bellum period which sowed the seeds of contemporary race politics and relations in the US more even than slavery itself. it created a blueprint for future generations of white men for how they can keep men (especially) of color on their knees even beyond Civil Rights with full protection of the the legal system and corporate America. This is the post-emancipation history we never learned in school. Highly recommended.
This book needs to be required reading for todays youth. Blackmon shows the pre WWII South and its brutality in a whole new way.
Another one of those books that should be taught in the classroom. The United States blind’s us from the horror and the massive economic gains not only from slavery but Jim Crow segregation (or neo slavery).