Slavery and the Making of America

James Oliver Horton, Author, Lois E. Horton, Author . Oxford Univ. $35 (254p) ISBN 978-0-19-517903-3

In this compact and lucid account of how "[t]he history of slavery is central to the history of the United States," the Hortons (Hard Road to Freedom , etc.) demonstrate the vital role that blacks played in landmarks of the American record (colonial settlement, the Revolution, westward expansion, the Civil War, Reconstruction). Africans and African-Americans appear not just as "passive laborers" but as shapers of American culture, from colonial politics to Southern cuisine. The authors reveal the myriad experiences of free and enslaved blacks and devote particular attention to the lives of women, both white and black. The oft-told tale is made fresh through up-to-date slavery scholarship, the extensive use of slave narratives and archival photos and, especially, a focus on individual experience. The well-known players (Attucks, Vesey, Tubman, Douglass) appear, but so do the more anonymous ones—the planter's wife and the slave driver share space with the abolitionist and the Confederate soldier, and all are skillfully etched. As the Hortons chronicle lives from freedom in Africa to slavery in America and beyond, they tell an integral American story, a tale not of juxtaposition but of edgy oneness. (Oct.)

Forecast: A dense but highly readable volume, this may see solid sales in 2005, when the PBS special of the same name airs in February.

Reviewed on: 08/16/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-0-19-530451-0
Open Ebook - 257 pages - 978-1-4294-4028-8
Show other formats
Discover what to read next