My copy of Edward Baptist’s new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, arrived and I’ve managed to finish the first chapter. The book is incredibly well written and thought provoking. Baptist places the spread of slavery at the center of the expansion of capitalism from the period immediately following the Revolution through the nineteenth century. Contrary to popular opinion, slavery was not antithetical to American capitalism, but its driving force. No, Baptist is not the first historian to suggest this, but it is likely that this particular book will enjoy a wider readership given its publication by a popular press and the recent controversy surrounding a review that appeared in The Economist.
The short video below featuring Baptist offers a nice concise overview of part of the book’s central argument. It’s part of a larger series, which look to be ideal for a college and AP classroom.[Uploaded to YouTube on February 14, 2014]