In The Half Has Never Been Told, historian Edward E. Baptist reveals the alarming extent to which slavery shaped our country politically, morally, and most of all, economically. Until the Civil War, our chief form of innovation was slavery. Through forced migration and torture, slave owners extracted continual increases in efficiency from their slaves, giving the country a virtual monopoly on the production of cotton, a key raw material of the Industrial Revolution.
As Baptist argues, this frenzy of speculation and economic expansion transformed the United States into a modern capitalist nation. Based on thousands of slave narratives and plantation records, The Half Has Never Been Told offers not only a radical revision of the history of slavery but a disturbing new understanding of the origins of American power that compels listeners to reckon with the violence and subjugation at the root of American supremacy.
©2014 Edward E. Baptist (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks
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"outstanding, beautiful work of history"
This book is a new interpretation of the U.S. antebellum period that powerfully combines the reality of slavery, the economics of the internal slave trade, international trade & the industrial revolution (first in the UK and later in New England), financial innovation & speculation, and banking. Baptist is able show how absolutely central slavery was to the American economy in the 19th century, north and south.
The sections that described how southern cotton planters & their overseers actually industrialized manual cotton cultivation to achieve a tripling and quadupling productivity in the field.
The narrator is outstanding, he does well with great written material.
"Masterful combo of economics, history, and prose"
This is a remarkable book!! Baptist weaves individual slaves' stories into an exposition of the economics driving slavery's expansion. He makes a powerful argument that slavery was pivotal in the development of US and world capital, and was actually accelerating at the time of the Civil war.
The us of accounts by specific enslaved people helps to illustrate larger structural changes in slavery's development but helps you understand the toll these played on people's lives. It also helps to understand various cultural developments and slavery,s lasting legacy.
I wish I had read this in college! It would have made the civil war make much more sense.
"A Book that Must Be Read"
Let me begin by saying that I am a white, registered Republican, who has read a good deal of about the civil war era. I certainly had no clear understanding at all about the system of slavery in America until I listened to this book. Yes, the author has a position, but is it possible to write dispassionately about slavery? The book is thoroughly researched, and lucidly clear. You will begin to understand American slavery after you listen to this book. Anyone with an interest in the era really has to listen to this book. In addition, the narration is simply superb.
"The most definitive history of American slavery;"
The essential companion to McPherson's Battle Cry Of Freedom in understanding the Civil War.
President Lincoln fought the war that destroyed slavery and advanced civilization based on personal merit, democratic institutions which became the human model of freedom and self-government for future ages in World History.
The shocking rape of black men by western slavers in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas for the sake of plantation production and control. The Caribbean slave rebellion in Haiti, which defeated both French and British soldiers, set up a concurrence of fear among white slavers and even common white farmers.
No current living American citizen, nor immigrant can understand the American Story from 1790's to today, without investigating the divergent North and South; social, political and economic lifestyle prior to the commencement of the Civil War, The new western slavers were growing America's chief export commodity, cotton. These new slavers, located in Texas, Louisiana Mississippi and Arkansas annually exported 13, or more, millions of cotton bales to mills in Great Britain and France. Even during hostilities, starved for cash, western slavers shipped cotton North, to mills in New England.
"The history we were never taught"
This book should have been written 150 years ago and taught in schools instead of the gloss on slavery still being studied in American classrooms. It is the story of slavery as the engine of the great American economy, the story of profit as generated by systematized kidnapping, torture, murder, and oppression. It is a compelling combination of personal narratives, economic analysis, and political development. And it's true: what I thought I knew about the Civil War and its causes was only half of the telling.
"Slavery's Role in Creating American Prosperity"
Yes. In fact while both reading and listening to this challenging book, I continually went back several chapters to re-read and/or re-listen to it, so startling were the facts presented and the way in which they were presented.
This is a history book; the question is irrelevant.
He didn't do a great job with the accents of people whose speeches he was reading, but I give him a pass on this because the story was so absorbing that I did not care.
Please don't try to trivialize this serious book with such a silly question. If a film were ever made faithfully showing the horrible incidents of violence, rape and family destruction visited upon the slave population of early 19th century America by slave owners and traders as depicted in this book, it would be a nightmare vision which few could stomach and fewer could forget.
I was very disappointed that the New York Times did not see fit to include this book in its list of the 100 best books of 2014. It should have been on the 10 best books of 2014 list, but it wasn't there either of course. I love the United States, what it stands for, and its history. Mr. Baptist tells the underside of the story of the growth of American prosperity and economic power in the first half of the nineteenth century, which he shows to be the result of massively increased productivity in the growing and picking of cotton to feed the new mills of the Industrial Revolution through the use of the "whipping machine" of slavery and Congessional tolerance for new slave states and for interstate slave trading. He tells you a story using modern economic language and statistical analysis, for example that securitization of debt underlaid aspects of the slave trade just as it did the subprime mortgage bubble. The author combines this factual analysis with an imaginative structure and passion born of Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man". If you love reading American history as much as I do, this is a book you absolutely must add to your list. It tells a story that really needs to be told, and really needs to be widely read and openly discussed.
This should be required reading in every high school in America. It is an exceptional historical and economic treatise. Wow
"Truly a one-of-a-kind book"
This book could've been a dry, recitation of statistics and facts, and because of the subject matter and conclusions drawn, it would've been a great book. But The Half Has Never Been Told is so much more than that. By using a multi-narrative format, the author pulls in anyone with even a casual interest in history and how it affects and informs their present by making it personal, while still including the facts, figures, statistics and holistic view of events necessary to drive home the points made.
I knew that there was a lot I didn't know about slavery, but this book does a good job of showing just how much is missing from the records books, and delves unabashedly into the taboo concept that Black peoples' wealth was stolen from them in order for America to survive - somehow a controversial statement, even in 2015.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has eyes and knows how to read. I recommend the Audiobook to everyone else.
"Eye Opening, Awakens Compassion...We are indebted"
Only listened to audio...cannot compare.
Edward E. Baptist for doing this work...for sharing the other side of our American history.
He is a skilled orator...Pleasant, matter of fact delivery...Kept my attention throughout. His skilled narration, coupled with the content was captivating...I could not stop listening.
Indebted to our African Americans...I'm so ashamed and sorry for the past...Please forgive us and we're sorry.
It is a travesty this history has not been told. The poor and middle class in our country of all races are being divided and pitted against each other like pawns in a chess game...It serves only one purpose and it is none of us. We need to stand together and support each other. We have much more in common than we do differences. We all live, love, feel, bleed and die. We are ONE HUMAN RACE!
"WoW!!! Eye Opening!"
This book was well documented and communicated to the true story of wealth building and development of the United States. For those out there that really want to know the true about the atrocities committed by some Americans to create wealth at all cost, this is something you want to read. If you don’t want to know the whole truth about the initial reason for the success of America, then you might not want hear or read this book. The truth hurts…
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