Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery

Robert W. Fogel, Author
Robert W. Fogel, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.5 (539p) ISBN 978-0-393-01887-5
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
The 1974 publication of Fogel's coolly statistical study Time on the Cross (coauthored with Stanley Engerman) sparked a controversy with its thesis that slavery in the American South, though morally repugnant, was profitable, efficient and economically viable. A synthesis of two decades of research, his latest book spells out a strong moral indictment of slavery which was mainly implicit in the earlier work. Among the findings presented are the following: slave breeding was not a major source of profit; masters did not generally work field hands to death, but they so overworked pregnant women that infant mortality rates soared; masters used slaves to fill managerial slots and craft professions in an effort to create a stable hierarchy. Abolitionists, in Fogel's view, were cultural elitists and religious crusaders who sought to replace Afro-American customs, language and religion with Anglo-Saxon ``civilization.'' Reworking some of the material in Time on the Cross , this incisive, probing reexamination is bound to provoke controversy. (Oct.)
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