Mark Twain supposedly said (he’s misquoted for a lot of things, because he’s so quotable; think about that) “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” That’s certainly true, about a lot of things; and it’s certainly true of the hard truths of American slavery.
This week Al Zambone is joined by Bob Elder, Assistant Professor of History at Valparaiso University and, like Al, a historian of the American South. It’s the first time on Historically Thinking that there is a book discussion without the author present. The book is one of the most acclaimed and discussed titles in American history in quite some time: Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. While agreeing that the half may not have been told, and if it was a lot of people were holding their fingers in their ears, the two historians also think that…well, listen for yourself.
For Further Reading
Edward Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Trevor Burnard’s Review of Baptist, and Baptist’s Response
Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Robert William Fogel and Stanley Engermann, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Slavery
Herbert G. Gutman, Slavery and the Numbers Game: A Critique of Time on the Cross