Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, David Brion Davis has long been recognized as the leading authority on slavery in the Western World. Now, in Inhuman Bondage, Davis sums up a lifetime of insight in this definitive account of New World slavery.
The heart of the book looks at slavery in the American South, describing black slaveholding planters, the rise of the Cotton Kingdom, the daily life of ordinary slaves, the highly destructive slave trade, the sexual exploitation of slaves, the emergence of an African-American culture, and much more. But though centered on the United States, the book offers a global perspective spanning four continents. It is the only study of American slavery that reaches back to ancient foundations and also traces the long evolution of anti-black racism in European thought. Equally important, it combines the subjects of slavery and abolitionism as very few books do, and it connects the actual life of slaves with the crucial place of slavery in American politics, stressing that slavery was integral to America's success as a nationnot a marginal enterprise.
A definitive history by a writer deeply immersed in the subject, Inhuman Bondage offers a compelling portrait of the dark side of the American dream.
Davis follows the large story of slavery into all corners of the Atlantic world, demonstrating that hardly anyone or anything was untouched by it. He is particularly interested in the way ideas shaped slavery's development. But Inhuman Bondage is not a history without people. Princes, merchants and reformers of all sorts play their role, though, sensibly, Davis gives pride of place to the men and women who suffered bondage. Drawing on some of the best recent studies, he not only adjudicates between the arguments, but also provides dozens of new insights, large and small, into events as familiar as the revolt on Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and the American Civil War.