The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
by Edward Baptist 2014
About the Author
Edward E. Baptist is a professor of history at Cornell University. Author of the award-winning Creating an Old South, he lives in Ithaca, New York.
About the Book
A groundbreaking history demonstrating that America’s economic supremacy was built on the backs of enslaved people
Winner of the 2015 Avery O. Craven Prize from the Organization of American Historians
Winner of the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize
Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution — the nation’s original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy.
Told through the intimate testimonies of survivors of slavery, plantation records, newspapers, as well as the words of politicians and entrepreneurs, The Half Has Never Been Told offers a radical new interpretation of American history.
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“A…myth-busting work that pursues how the world profited from American slavery…this is a complicated story involving staggering scholarship that adds greatly to our understanding of the history of the United States.”―Kirkus Reviews
“Baptist renders history and economics with the power of prose that seeks to tell a fuller story than has been told of American slavery…An insightful look at U.S. slavery and its controversial role in the much-celebrated story of American capitalism.”―Booklist
“Baptist has written a book that truly deepens and broadens our understanding of slavery… Professional historians and lay readers will pore over this book for years to come. Essential for all readers interested in American history and the history of slavery.”―Library Journal