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Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

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A profound, learned and detailed analysis of Negro slavery. It covers an incredible range of topics and offers fresh insights on nearly every page... the author's great gift is his ability to penetrate the minds of both slaves and masters, revealing not only how they viewed themselves and each other, but also how they contradictory perceptions interacted. A profound, learned and detailed analysis of Negro slavery. It covers an incredible range of topics and offers fresh insights on nearly every page... the author's great gift is his ability to penetrate the minds of both slaves and masters, revealing not only how they viewed themselves and each other, but also how they contradictory perceptions interacted.


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A profound, learned and detailed analysis of Negro slavery. It covers an incredible range of topics and offers fresh insights on nearly every page... the author's great gift is his ability to penetrate the minds of both slaves and masters, revealing not only how they viewed themselves and each other, but also how they contradictory perceptions interacted. A profound, learned and detailed analysis of Negro slavery. It covers an incredible range of topics and offers fresh insights on nearly every page... the author's great gift is his ability to penetrate the minds of both slaves and masters, revealing not only how they viewed themselves and each other, but also how they contradictory perceptions interacted.

30 review for Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A fascinating, but vitally flawed, book, Roll, Jordan, Roll, is part Marxist-leaning polemic and part well-woven narratives of the slave experience in colonial and antebellum America. At just over 800 pages, Genovese's opus has become a classic in the field for its amazing scope and wide-ranging foci on the nature of slavery in historical America. However, Genovese relies on a very specific point of view that constrains the interpretation of slavery to a preindustrial Marxian paradigm, steeped i A fascinating, but vitally flawed, book, Roll, Jordan, Roll, is part Marxist-leaning polemic and part well-woven narratives of the slave experience in colonial and antebellum America. At just over 800 pages, Genovese's opus has become a classic in the field for its amazing scope and wide-ranging foci on the nature of slavery in historical America. However, Genovese relies on a very specific point of view that constrains the interpretation of slavery to a preindustrial Marxian paradigm, steeped in religion and paternalism. In thirty-six-year retrospect, this is a confining definition, and keeps the reader from a more fluid and dynamic interpretation of what was anything but monolithic institution. This should not wholly detract from the tremendous scholarship that went into this seminal study, however, and the work which has built upon it in the more than quarter century following its original publication. Genovese’s Marxism, while it does invigorate the text with a strong theory and consistent framework, also deceives the reader into looking at slavery as though through a monocle: the subject is only clear through a very narrow sphere of influence – that of an unfree underclass dominated by paternalism and religion – and interpreted as a monolithic institution. Perhaps in an attempt to make the evidence fit the sociopolitical oeuvre, Genovese oversimplifies situations and ideas to the point of gross overextrapolation. His subjects are seemingly suspended in time and place even though Genovese does take examples from many different eras and locales; there is no progression or regression in time or space, only the singular, ever-present, archetypal institution. Further, that institution, led by Genovese’s paternalistic masters, who rule over a preindustrial labor force, is invariant across a wide geographic area; when Genovese states “many” experienced certain conditions, the interpretation is clearly – and far ahead of the facts – intended or implied to be “most” or “all.” Thus, New England, the Chesapeake, the Mid Atlantic and the Deep Southern states and their unfree people are lumped together in a mélange of monochrome; institutional slavery is claimed to be virtually the same no matter where it took place, or in what time period. This is a significant and worrisome problem. Detractions aside, this is perhaps one of the best-sourced books presented in this semester’s reading series. Genovese has done his homework, and pulls from a vast array of primary sources as well as respected secondary sources and relevant political science and philosophical texts. Roll, Jordan, Roll, offers an unparalleled early look at slave narratives as well as documentary sources that bring out a unique perspective on white planters. Putting the Marxist interpretation aside for a moment, the book is well-worth exploring if only for the narratives and other sources, and the notes which can lead to vastly greater research efforts (there is no bibliography) are superb. Genovese also has an engaging writing style which makes reading the book a pleasure, even when he is explaining obscure facets of Marxist theory. Despite its flaws, this was an excellent choice.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Commonground

    Roll Jordan Roll is an extensive chronicle of the lives of African American slaves in the United States. It smashes the myth of a defeated, simple people without a culture. It details how a captive group of people from several different cultures retained many of their own traditions while adapting to their very difficult conditions. Rich with examples of how these strong people not only survived, but performed everyday acts of resistance, often with an artistic flair, this book will forever chan Roll Jordan Roll is an extensive chronicle of the lives of African American slaves in the United States. It smashes the myth of a defeated, simple people without a culture. It details how a captive group of people from several different cultures retained many of their own traditions while adapting to their very difficult conditions. Rich with examples of how these strong people not only survived, but performed everyday acts of resistance, often with an artistic flair, this book will forever change your thinking about the other forefathers of the United States who permanently changed our culture.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Isern

    Since I have my graduate students in agricultural history read this work, I figured it was time I reread it myself. I find that it resonates differently now, after the passage of decades, for the book, for me, and for the country. The book, of course, is what it was in 1974, only not. Books are living things that breathe the air of the times. In 1974 Roll, Jordan was edgy, hot, controversial, and affirming all at the same time. Now it is historiography, and in the land of historiography, the oxy Since I have my graduate students in agricultural history read this work, I figured it was time I reread it myself. I find that it resonates differently now, after the passage of decades, for the book, for me, and for the country. The book, of course, is what it was in 1974, only not. Books are living things that breathe the air of the times. In 1974 Roll, Jordan was edgy, hot, controversial, and affirming all at the same time. Now it is historiography, and in the land of historiography, the oxygen levels are too low to sustain fire. Me, well, in 1974 I was full of vinegar and excited by the times, whereas today, I read the book reflectively, and identify with its author. I see this as a work of passage, wherein we read an old Marxist confronting historical facts, trying to fit them into the old paradigm, and in the end, while retaining the old rhetoric, forging something new on the way to his own fundamental change in philosophy. As for the country, although there are usages and tropes in Roll, Jordan that may cause discomfort today, our sense of what slavery was, of how African legacies survived in North America, and of who we are as a people is vitally grounded in the interpretations propounded by Genovese.

  4. 4 out of 5

    William Guerrant

    From a comprehensive review of primary sources, most importantly first person accounts of slaves, masters and observers of the era, the author has assembled an impressive and important review and analysis of all aspects of slavery in America. His thorough analysis of the reciprocal obligations attendant to the paternalist ethos in the master/slave relationship is particularly fascinating and helpful. At times Genovese struggles to squeeze his findings into the Marxist meta-narrative to which he w From a comprehensive review of primary sources, most importantly first person accounts of slaves, masters and observers of the era, the author has assembled an impressive and important review and analysis of all aspects of slavery in America. His thorough analysis of the reciprocal obligations attendant to the paternalist ethos in the master/slave relationship is particularly fascinating and helpful. At times Genovese struggles to squeeze his findings into the Marxist meta-narrative to which he was then committed at this stage of his career. He sometimes also struggles to maintain the detachment appropriate for a historian and sometimes seemingly doesn't try at all (which makes amusing his criticism of E.P. Thompson for doing the very thing he is so often guilty of himself). But of course human slavery is a difficult subject to discuss with detachment. But even with its ideological slant (which he is careful to reveal), this book is a refreshing read in a time when the social sciences (with the ironic exception of philosophy) have been commandeered by post-modernism. His impressive dive into the primary sources and his admirable attention to differing perspectives makes this a book with continued relevance. It isn't realistic to expect many to take the time to plow through these 800 plus pages, but our public discussion of the history of this era would benefit if more would do so.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Bates

    Eugene Genovese’s 1974 work Roll, Jordan, Roll is an exploration of the ideological framework that mediated the relationship between slaves and slaveholders. Building on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, Genovese’s goal is to understand how one class dominated another, justified itself and how the ruled responded to that domination within a shared paternalist framework. Paternalism dictated that slaveholders accepted duties to their slaves concurrently with power over them, while blacks accepted the Eugene Genovese’s 1974 work Roll, Jordan, Roll is an exploration of the ideological framework that mediated the relationship between slaves and slaveholders. Building on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, Genovese’s goal is to understand how one class dominated another, justified itself and how the ruled responded to that domination within a shared paternalist framework. Paternalism dictated that slaveholders accepted duties to their slaves concurrently with power over them, while blacks accepted the paternalist frame, restating the duties of their masters as personal rights. Genovese frames this as a negotiation which exhibits the agency of slaves. The claim that slaves bought into this system on a deep level, accepting the identity which masters pressed on them while reconceptualizing parts of the relationship, is central to Genovese’s view of slavery as a system of thought. Racial denigration plays little role for Genovese and at times seems almost incidental to his description of a society of masters and servants – a family black and white. Ignoring historical details and developments and relying instead on anecdotes allows Genovese to create an account of slavery which has its foundations the ideas that slaveholders had about themselves. The general pattern is exemplified by Genovese’s frequent recurrence to the statistic that over 80% of slaves did not leave their plantations during the Civil War, in order to prove that slaves did not want to leave the white families of whom they were fictional (and not so fictional) members. The fact that Union armies sometimes shot slaves attempting to flee to their lines during the first half of the war and scarcely grazed the Deep South black belt in their passage during the second half is immaterial, along with the military service of two hundred thousand black men. To the extent that Genovese explores the worldview and ideology of slaveholders his work is valuable. To the extent that he frames it as something other than that, he makes it into fiction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Logan

    An outstanding work in its scope and balance, I almost feel as though it should be required reading for all Americans to understand the history of the racial difficulties that persist today. Genovese has explored the social and economic interactions between each of the groups of slaves, free negroes, slaveholders, overseers, and drivers, household servants, and poor whites and has done so on in areas of religion, sexuality, education, politics, food, drink, morale, etc. etc. And all with a very An outstanding work in its scope and balance, I almost feel as though it should be required reading for all Americans to understand the history of the racial difficulties that persist today. Genovese has explored the social and economic interactions between each of the groups of slaves, free negroes, slaveholders, overseers, and drivers, household servants, and poor whites and has done so on in areas of religion, sexuality, education, politics, food, drink, morale, etc. etc. And all with a very balanced view. I was fascinated to see how easy and logical it was for the slaveholders to deceive themselves into thinking what they did was actually the right thing, how if everybody was owning slaves, it might as well be myself, a good person, who would treat them kindly and look after them as a father. I can see much better now how deep-seated resentment would arise from what was perceived as ingratitude or disloyalty, and how the slaves, rather than merely being passive, used what means they could within the system to obtain as much for their own advantage as they could. The interaction is immensely complex and far less one-dimensional than anyone willing to cry "racist" would have you believe. A truly excellent and fair book which doesn't shy away from calling something wrong or evil, but also doesn't view history through 21st century lenses.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Qasim Zafar

    My introduction to Eugene Genovese was his paper, titled, "The Question." Considering how much I enjoyed reading that paper; when I came across this book I didn't hesitate to buy it. The best feature of this book is the exquisite detail with which Genovese covers a broad spectrum of topics, and he does this with a nuance which is often missed. For example, how was it the case that a religion which was used to justify the enslavement of an entire group on racial grounds ended up being the same re My introduction to Eugene Genovese was his paper, titled, "The Question." Considering how much I enjoyed reading that paper; when I came across this book I didn't hesitate to buy it. The best feature of this book is the exquisite detail with which Genovese covers a broad spectrum of topics, and he does this with a nuance which is often missed. For example, how was it the case that a religion which was used to justify the enslavement of an entire group on racial grounds ended up being the same religion which united the enslaved, and then used to look at the injustices of the oppressor. The way Genovese covers this, the abolitionist movement, and the antebellum period enables the reader to see and understand how the justification for slavery changed over time: going from a Biblical justification, to being one about how one treated their slaves "better" than their neighboring plantation (even when they didn't), to slavery being a necessary evil - a "white man's burden." The manner in which Genovese covers the material also enables the reader to get a glimpse of the inner life of Slaves, their hopes and fears, and how, even under the weight of unbearable oppression they found community, family, strength, and faced their trials with an inextinguishable resolve. Genovese also explores how master, slave, and overseer dynamics varied on the plantation and contrasts them with those which existed on the farms. Issues pertaining to family structures, life in the big house, and even general entertainment are addressed. He also considers issues such as why a solidarity didn't develop between slaves and the poor white, even though both would have benefited from it. The subtitle of the book, "The World the Slaves Made" is apt, because the reader not only gets to see the world the slaves made by vritue of their labor (the fruits of which they weren't allowed to enjoy), but also the world they carved out for themselves to deal with immense weight of oppression. I cannot recommend this book enough! This book, however, is by no means a page turner, and at times can be an excruciatingly slow read. Considering the heaviness of the topics discussed, I look at this as a positive instead of a negative because it allowed me to internalize what I was reading before moving forward. Having said this, here are some videos which truly made enabled me to get through the slow pace with patience, and added to the overall experience of this book: 1. Africa to America: The Odyssey of Slavery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX_tk... 2. Slavery in the Old World and the Atlantic Slave Trade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9FmL... 3. Slavery in Spanish America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-flZ... 4. Slavery in Portugese America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQtjv... 5. Slavery in British America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGUdD... 6. Slave Rebellion in Saint Domingue and Its After Shocks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znCa0... 7. Studying Slave Cultures across the Americas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0g67... 8. . True Slave Stories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDZkn... 9. Slavery by Another Name: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPlk4... 10. Maafa 21 - Black Genocide in 21st Century America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6XfU...

  8. 5 out of 5

    GrinnolaAlum

    This is a book that focuses on slavery as a system of paternalism. It tries hard but in its efforts reduces slaves to one-dimensional caricatures who have bought into and welcome the system of slavery. I read this in college and the way slaves were described as being invested in this system seemed even then such a shallow stereotypic view. This work seems to reinforce the stereotype of slavery that includes the post-slavery construct that portrayed slaves as happy with paternalism, welcoming the This is a book that focuses on slavery as a system of paternalism. It tries hard but in its efforts reduces slaves to one-dimensional caricatures who have bought into and welcome the system of slavery. I read this in college and the way slaves were described as being invested in this system seemed even then such a shallow stereotypic view. This work seems to reinforce the stereotype of slavery that includes the post-slavery construct that portrayed slaves as happy with paternalism, welcoming the system of slavery and most humane when under its thrall. It is the view that was echoed and perpetuated by advertising, entertainment, literature, cartoons, and movies (Birth of a Nation comes to mind). I don't believe that was the author's intention. However Genovese seems to either a)not understand or b)forget that being owned by someone with absolute power over their entire existence had an effect on how slaves acted, how they viewed themselves and responded those in power. We have modern examples of how life-threatening situations and being under the constant and real threat of violence can change you psychologically and impact your view of your self, your oppressors and the nature of the shared relationship(Stockholm's syndrome). This is still considered a classic by many. However, an examination of slave narratives and the work of other historians and researchers who have added to our understanding of slavery suggest that this work should be viewed as dated and limited. Update - I reread this for a History discussion group, was struck again by the author's sympathy for slaveowners, the view of paternalism as a social contract where slaves consented to reasonable punishments like beatings and this book feels dated. A lot of information but there are better books to read on this topic. Any of my friends who took AA History with Prof. H know what I am talking about he did not assign this book because he was trying to challenge the stereotypic views and misinformation we learned before taking AA History.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Saul

    This was one heck of a read when I was in the Graduate program for History at San Jose State. Not only does it gives the reader a view of slavery from a slaves point of view but it does not take a paternalistic view. Yes they were slaves, and considered chattel but even in such a brutal and horrible system, Genovese shows that beneath the labels slaves were people. With dreams, love and even power. An amazing book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    This is a rich, challenging, and complex book. It is a book with basically one big idea, but it provides a brilliant way to think about American slavery and relationship between masters and sons. Although some recent research has undermined parts of Genovese, overall it remains a crucial book for students of American history. This book took me forever to read, so I wouldn't really recommend it to non-historian readers, but I'd say it's important for high school and college teachers to be familia This is a rich, challenging, and complex book. It is a book with basically one big idea, but it provides a brilliant way to think about American slavery and relationship between masters and sons. Although some recent research has undermined parts of Genovese, overall it remains a crucial book for students of American history. This book took me forever to read, so I wouldn't really recommend it to non-historian readers, but I'd say it's important for high school and college teachers to be familiar with the material. The sources he draws on are incredibly rich, and he paints as vivid a portrait of slavery as I've ever seen, from their parties to their religion to their culinary skills. In this review, I'm just going to discuss a few of the book's central points because it's just too big to summarize. 1. The central argument revolves around the idea of hegemonic regime, a concept borrowed from Gramsci. This is probably the best use of a Marxist concept in historical writing I've ever come across given that I usually find that Marxist historians jam historical facts into their terminology. The basic idea is that American slaveowners created a system of incentives and disincentives that left much room for slaves to resist the wills of their masters and bargain for better treatment. However, this system bounded the spectrum of slave resistance, making genuine challenges to slavery, such as revolt or escape, essentially impossible (more impossible to revolt than escape). The system was bounded first and foremost by force: the white population was the majority. they owned all the guns, they ran the legal system, and they were almost universally committed to racism and slavery. Unlike in the Caribbean or South American, large scale rebellions were impossible and hardly ever took place because the slaves knew them to be suicidal. What's even more interesting about Genovese's idea of the regime is that it created a web of dependence between master and slave that further enmeshed the slave in the master's control. It's remarkable how much these groups could actually take care of each other and care for each other, although resentment and condescension were constant. Slaves looked to masters for protection from a variety of things, including the legal system, slave patrols, and brutal overseers. Genovese shows that masters would often believe slaves more than overseers because overseers usually rotated in and out of a plantation while slaves were permanent members. Masters developed all kinds of rituals of dependence, from the handing out of clothes every year to the holiday celebrations, which provided a much-needed release valve for pent-up anger among slaves. In all of these cases, the more the slaves bought into the dependence relationship, the less likely they were to really challenge the regime. One of the greatest strengths of this book is that it gets you into the mindset of the master class. In general, people find it very hard to see themselves as the bad guys, even when they are owning, selling, and brutalizing fellow human beings. When so many slaves ran away during or after the Civil War, whites were genuinely outraged at their "ingratitude" because most of them believed the slaves depended on, respected, and maybe even cared for them. Genovese shows how the masters really believed in the paternalism ideology. Of course, to continue believing they were good they had to constantly rationalize the bad things they did as well as the actions of the slaves against them. The actions of slaveholders usually spoke louder than their words, revealing that they didn't totally believe that the slaves simply adored them and weren't angry at them. The terror that any hint of slave revolt caused, and the masters' thorough attempts to stop slave literacy and meetings, showed that they didn't fully trust their slaves. Slave owners claimed that blacks didn't care much for family, but they nevertheless used the threat of separation through sale to incentivize obedience, showing that they did see that slave families did love each other like white ones did. After around 1830, they also began to ameliorate the brutality and deprivation of slavery (to some degree) to better preserve the regime in the long term. In this sense, the book was a fascinating psychological study of the ability of the human mind to constantly reconcile the world it experiences with deeply held beliefs, such as "I am a good person." 2. Some people (including some Goodreads reviewers) have misread Genovese's portrayal of the slaves, thinking that he sees that as obedient or childish "Sambos" who had accepted their enslavement. Genovese counters that slaves under the paternalist regime constantly turned the privileges their masters saw themselves as beneficently bestowing into rights that the slaves demanded and that the masters had an obligation to provide. When slaves believed that their rights within this bounded system were being violated, they made their protests known in a variety of ways. Surprisingly enough, the masters relented quite frequently and went to great lengths to ensure that slave rights were being upheld, mainly for the maintenance of order on the planation. For example, slaves believed that there were limits to the amount of violence a white person could inflict on them, and protested consistently when those limits were violated. Other privileges transformed into rights included: garden plots, Sundays off, separate religious ceremonies, Christmas holidays, good treatment for their children, and adequate food. However, (and this is the part of the argument that's really brilliant), the more stable this reciprocal, interdependent relationship became, the more reconciled slaves became to their position. This reconciliation does not mean that they wouldn't seize opportunities to escape slavery when the time arose (the Civil War), as they did in great numbers, but that because escape was so difficult and violent resistance suicidal, slaves fought for the best lives they could get within a bounded system. Where the bounds were exactly depended upon the back and forth between master and slave. It was a fascinating paradox: the more the slaves did to reconcile themselves (not necessarily permanently) to their status, the more stable the entire regime became. This is a much more effective argument about slave resistance than other books I have read. Historians like Ira Berlin tend to portray virtually everything a slave did that wasn't exactly what his master wanted as resistance, including dirty looks given to whites, breaking farm equipment, and slowing down work. Berlin doesn't really specify what this resistance was against, but he celebrates it nonetheless. Genovese shows that there was a difference between resistance and personal/communal empowerment. An example of resistance in slavery was when black communities worked together to protect women from sexual assault or when they attacked overseers and masters for excessive brutality. The constant possibility of slave violence was an important part of how slaves managed to wring better treatment out of the regime, which never trusted them not to completely "defect" in game theoretic terms. However, when the slaves built up their own culture and religion in communities, this was a way for them to bolster their spirits and find meaning in life despite their downtrodden condition. In fact, Genovese convincingly says that slaves were so successful at this that it ultimately bolstered the regime by enabling them to endure enslavement, even though they were more empowered to get more from the masters within slavery. Slaves are heroes in this book, but not because everything they did challenged their enslavement. Most of their actions did not. They are heroes because they mostly avoided nihilism, selfishness, and depravity in a system that sought to render them into non-people, mere extensions of the wills of their masters. 3. There are a bunch of other fascinating aspects of this book, but I should wrap up by discussing some of its problems. The big problem with the book is that he treats slavery as geographically static. He's dealing with the height of the paternalist regime from the 1830's to the Civil War, but this was also a period in which, as Edward Baptist puts it, slavery was on the move. A constant flow of slaves were being sold out of the overpopulated East Coast into the Southwest, where cotton was still booming. These slaves were sold into a much more brutal, less paternalistic version of slavery on the frontier, a place where most of Genovese's argument would not apply. This outflow of slaves messes up a few aspects of Genovese's argument. For example, he argues that slaves won the right/expectation that their families would be kept intact, but the numbers of slaves sent south and west suggest otherwise. A second problem with the book is that while most slaves lived on holdings of 10 or fewer, the book seems to focus mainly on large plantations. It's likely that similar dynamics applied in small holdings, but as of now still unproven. The only other caveat I'd add about the book is that it takes forever to read and sometimes has a mind-numbing amount of detail. It was still enjoyable and enlightening, but I should add that warning for all but the most patient readers. Or those who have to read it for comps. Ie me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Faute de pouvoir donner cinq étrons, je lui donne une étoile. Roll, Jordan, Roll is a great example of how history should not be written. It is guilty of two great sins: -1- it forces facts into models and -2- it makes absurd efforts to be politically correct. An historian is supposed to seek the facts and let them lay where they fall. They are not supposed to select facts in order to build a model. Genovese was a declared Marxist and disciple of Gramschi. Like all good Marxists he openly flaunted Faute de pouvoir donner cinq étrons, je lui donne une étoile. Roll, Jordan, Roll is a great example of how history should not be written. It is guilty of two great sins: -1- it forces facts into models and -2- it makes absurd efforts to be politically correct. An historian is supposed to seek the facts and let them lay where they fall. They are not supposed to select facts in order to build a model. Genovese was a declared Marxist and disciple of Gramschi. Like all good Marxists he openly flaunted the basic code of the honest historian and makes every effort to force American slavery into a Marxist model. In Roll, Jordan, Roll Genovese argues that slavery was a natural fit in a Capitalist society. This view is of course directly opposed to that of Liberal historians who have always argued that slavery impedes the development of a capitalism by preventing the free mobility of labour and by diverting money that should properly have been invested in equipment into the ownership slaves. This liberal analysis cites the rapid development of a industry in the Non-Slave states and the absence of industry in the slave states as proof of its case. Genovese response is absurd. He simply brands the plantations as industrial agricultural enterprises and says that the success of these industrial agricultural enterprises as proof that slavery is compatible with capitalism. Genovese ignores the fact that the slave states never achieved any significant volume of factory production and that they had to rely on the Northern Banks because they were unable to develop significant financial institutions of their own. Genovese simply feeds nonsense to the reader. Genovese's second sin was at least well intentioned. He wished to show the Black slaves were simply not tools in the hands of the white masters but played a role of leadership in the Southern plantation economy. The result is a text that is convoluted, politically correct and quite ghastly. To a degree, Genovese has a point. One wonders what would have happened to the ante-bellum South if Jimmy Crackcorn did not in fact dutifully chase away the blue-tail flies whenever Master passed out drunk. I still like the song and intensely dislike Genovese's prose. Roll, Jordan, Roll is an absolutely dreadful history of slavery. Vachel Lindsay's "Simon Legree" provides a critique of the peculiar institution that is in every way vastly superior. The best of all remains Jimmy Crackcorn.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Despite being 800 pages long, this book is not in the slightest bit bloated nor was it a wearisome read (which is rare for a history book of this length). I have been somewhat prejudiced against Eugene Genovese for his later apologies for the slaveholders and straw-man depictions of abolitionists. In his earlier work, however, he struck a good balance between appropriate empathy and critical discrimination. Roll, Jordan, Roll is, and will always be viewed as, the outstanding social history of th Despite being 800 pages long, this book is not in the slightest bit bloated nor was it a wearisome read (which is rare for a history book of this length). I have been somewhat prejudiced against Eugene Genovese for his later apologies for the slaveholders and straw-man depictions of abolitionists. In his earlier work, however, he struck a good balance between appropriate empathy and critical discrimination. Roll, Jordan, Roll is, and will always be viewed as, the outstanding social history of the world the slaves made.

  13. 4 out of 5

    C C

    This book is the definitive popular history of American slavery. It's scholarly credentials are impeccable, as are it's marxist tendencies. The analysis of the southern Paternalism is what makes this book worth reading. Good history enlarges so your understanding of things beyond the primary subject matter. Genovese makes you see the South as a metaphor for the relations of power as they exist in the society as a whole. This book is the definitive popular history of American slavery. It's scholarly credentials are impeccable, as are it's marxist tendencies. The analysis of the southern Paternalism is what makes this book worth reading. Good history enlarges so your understanding of things beyond the primary subject matter. Genovese makes you see the South as a metaphor for the relations of power as they exist in the society as a whole.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristie

    Genovese's thesis on paternalism and slavery changed my perspective on the institution in America. This is a compelling read for anyone studying the antebellum South. His ideas on paternalism, coupled with the Moynihan report totally changed my outlook on slavery as a whole and its impact on our society today. Genovese's thesis on paternalism and slavery changed my perspective on the institution in America. This is a compelling read for anyone studying the antebellum South. His ideas on paternalism, coupled with the Moynihan report totally changed my outlook on slavery as a whole and its impact on our society today.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Genovese lays out a pretty good case for paternalism. Even if you don't buy his argument, its a pretty comprehensive account of America's "original sin"...slavery. Genovese lays out a pretty good case for paternalism. Even if you don't buy his argument, its a pretty comprehensive account of America's "original sin"...slavery.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elliot Schnapp

    A definitive description of what life was like under slavery. As close to a five star as a book can be without being one, but Genovese's writing can be a bit clunky at times. A definitive description of what life was like under slavery. As close to a five star as a book can be without being one, but Genovese's writing can be a bit clunky at times.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Luis

    Extremely well-researched look at the everyday life of American slavery.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Still the beginning for all slavery studies.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Roueche

    Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, winner of the 1975 Bancroft Prize, is indispensable to understanding American slavery in the antebellum South. It's also delightfully controversial in history and content. It was written by Eugene D. Genovese, a communist later turned conservative. He was in his Marxist phase when he wrote it, and he tried to squeeze his image of slavery into his perspective of ideological class conflict and exploitation. I found his communist theorizing for the most Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, winner of the 1975 Bancroft Prize, is indispensable to understanding American slavery in the antebellum South. It's also delightfully controversial in history and content. It was written by Eugene D. Genovese, a communist later turned conservative. He was in his Marxist phase when he wrote it, and he tried to squeeze his image of slavery into his perspective of ideological class conflict and exploitation. I found his communist theorizing for the most part easy to ignore, though tedious at times, but I appreciated his comparisons of slaves in the Old South with workers and slaves and their circumstances around the world. Some readers, however, thought his social theories devalued Roll, Jordan, Row. Other reviewers have complained Genovese wrote of slavery as one Goodreads reviewer claims focusing “on slavery as a system of paternalism. It tries hard but in its efforts reduces slaves to one dimensional caricatures who have bought into and welcome the system of slavery.” I can't imagine we're thinking of the same book. But it's not just casual reviewers have who disputed the book's perspective: In its obituary for the author, the New York Times noted "historian Edward L. Ayers . . . called it 'the best book ever written about American slavery'" while historian Eric Foner held that "the buying and selling of slaves could hardly be considered paternalistic; parents do not normally sell their children." Sounds to me like a semantic disagreement. "Row, Jordan, Row" notes specially trained dogs, often owned by poor whites, tracked runaways, maiming and killing if not pulled quickly from the tracked slaves. "Row, Jordan, Row" notes specially trained dogs, often owned by poor whites, tracked runaways, maiming and killing if not pulled quickly from the escaping slaves. Genovese does write extensively in Roll, Jordan, Roll about paternalism but never suggests slaves bought into or welcomed the abominable social order or system. There was never a doubt in my mind that the complete wrongness of slavery in all its forms under-girded Genovese intent and work in the book. To me Roll, Jordan, Roll did exactly the opposite of what such detractors claim. It portrays a range of slaves and slave experiences, always presenting the victims as individual human beings under unbearable circumstances. His major premise is slaves individually and collectively created meaningful lives and community, stubbornly refusing to adopt slaveholder will as their own. As Genovese writes: Slavery, a particularly savage system of oppression and exploitation, made its slaves victims. But the human beings it made victims did not consent to be just that; they struggled to make life bearable and to find as much joy in it as they could. Up to a point even the harshest of masters had to help them do so. The logic of slavery pushed the masters to try to break their slaves' spirit and to reconstruct it as an unthinking and unfeeling extension of their own will, but the slaves' own resistance to dehumanization compelled the masters to compromise in order to get an adequate level of work out of them. In this quote, I hear criticism of slaveholders and their dehumanization of slaves in their pursuit of wealth—a legitimate attack on the capitalism of the antebellum past North and South which conspired against Africans stolen from their homelands. In no sense does the quote above, which captures the spirit of the tome, hold that slaves approved of or passively accepted their state. When the author wrote about slave revolts (or lack of them), he reprises the theme: In the United States those prospects [of revolting], minimal during the eighteenth century, declined toward zero during the nineteenth. The slaves of the Old South should not have to answer for their failure to mount more frequent and effective revolts; they should be honored for having tried at all under the most discouraging circumstances. As time went on those conditions became steadily more discouraging: the hinterland filled up with armed whites; the population ratios swung against the blacks; creoles [I believe he uses creole in the sense of American born] replaced Africans; and the regime grew in power and cohesion. . . . Meeting necessity with their own creativity, the slaves built an Afro-American community life in the interstices of the system and laid the foundations for their future as a people. But their very strategy for survival enmeshed them in a web of paternalistic relationships which sustained the slaveholders' regime despite the deep antagonisms it engendered. The slaves' success in forging a world of their own within a wider world shaped primarily by the oppressors sapped their will to revolt, not so much because they succumbed to the baubles of amelioration as because they themselves were creating conditions worth living in as slaves while simultaneously facing overwhelming power that discouraged frontal attack. Neither quote suggests to me a view of slaves as willing, docile human beings accepting happily their state, willingly ceding their independence and will to the slaveholder. But the author also is not presenting a simplistic view of slavery that offers all slaves as heroes and all slave owners as despotic. In his work, Genovese portrays a complex system where players (some better than others) by choice and others without choice work for their own purposes, exacting as much as they can from the other side. Roll, Jordan, Roll depicts slaveholders consciously manipulating the feelings and loyalties of their slaves to their own purposes. Included in those manipulations is granting “privileges” as one-time “gifts” to slaves, but the slaves successfully seized many such privileges, claiming them as rights for the future, thus bettering as best they could their living conditions. Over time, this give and take developed into recognized, “accepted” traditions. Thus “masters had the upper hand, but slaves set limits as best they could” in a series of horrible compromises. Such a view seems consistent with the complexity of all human relations and therefore appears credible. Clearly, however and unfortunately, both master and slave consciously or unconsciously bought into a paternalistic relationship and strengthened it by their respective behavior based on masters generally taking responsibility for clothing, feeding and protecting (not necessarily well) and slaves coming to expect it. This led to some slave owners believing their own propaganda and feeling betrayed by the “lack of gratitude” slaves showed when they would run away or had the audacity to leave the plantation or farm after the war or Union army freed them. For me, the best aspect of Roll, Jordan, Roll was Genovese's use of quotes from slaveholders and slaves across the wide array of topics covered, offering varied voices and circumstances to create a broader, more textured understanding of the state of slavery in the South. I also appreciated the book's discussion of the development of an ironic style of communication among slaves. They didn't have the freedom to speak the truth so they developed the ability to speak “undercover,” saying at times the opposite of what they meant. Roll, Jordan, Roll never gives us a stereotypical slave as fool, while it does capture slaves sometimes playing the fool to manage masters, some of whom understood and at times appreciate the theater and some who become the fools by not recognizing the manipulation. Another appreciated aspect of Roll, Jordan, Roll was revelation of the flexibility of the slave work calendar. Sometimes we're left with the impression slaves were worked 14-16 hours a day constantly for years on end, always leaving one wondering how they could survive. That was the lot of some slaves in other countries in the hemisphere where they were literally worked to death. But in the American South, master self-interest meant slaves generally were not required to work such long hours in all weather conditions year round. During specific seasons and activities, such as cotton harvest, they did labor exceptionally long days. But that was, Genovese suggests, the exception. That's not to imply slave life was pleasurable because of a “shortened” work day as forced labor and hours are wrong and miserable on any scale. But it presents a more realistic perspective on work hours. Roll, Jordan, Roll is dense, long (nearly 700 pages; over 800 with notes) and complicated. It covers a wide expanse of topics, including religion, law, work and work conditions, freedmen, mammys, runaways, love, sex, drivers and overseers, marriage, the elderly, children, cooking and funerals. (Researching the last topic is why I picked up the book in the first place.) Necessarily some topics aren't covered in as much depth as I would have liked. But the book is a major accomplishment and a unique contribution to our understanding of the world the slaves made. In the end it is an indispensable tribute to what slaves were able to achieve in spite of being forced to play a rigged game of chance. Mr. Genovese's great labor enriched my understanding of the awful institution of slavery in the South.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Bowles

    A. Argument: The “slaves laid the foundation for a separate black national culture while enormously enriching American culture as a whole.” (xv) This separate black national culture has always been American, even though it was based on African origins. Masters and slaves shaped each other and cannot be analyzed in isolation. This book examines the black struggle to survive spiritually and physically. This book concerns itself with the quality of life which defies measurement. Genovese accepts Fo A. Argument: The “slaves laid the foundation for a separate black national culture while enormously enriching American culture as a whole.” (xv) This separate black national culture has always been American, even though it was based on African origins. Masters and slaves shaped each other and cannot be analyzed in isolation. This book examines the black struggle to survive spiritually and physically. This book concerns itself with the quality of life which defies measurement. Genovese accepts Fogel and Engermans data but cannot use it. 1. “The hegemony of the slaveholders--their domination of society through command of the culture rather than solely through the command of the gun (yet enforced by the gun (658)” 2. Slaveholders established their hegemony over the salves through the development of an elaborate web of paternalistic (The implicit bargain in which the master’s accepted responsibility for the slave’s welfare such as food housing, and medical care--in return for their labor) relationships, “but the slaves place in that hegemonic system reflected deep contradictions, manifested in the dialectic of accommodation and resistance” 3. The slaves insistence on “defining paternalism in their own way represented a rejection of the moral pretensions of the slaveholders. 4. The slaves religion developed into the organizing center of their resistance within accommodation. It limited the hegemony of the master class. B. Sources 1. Slaveholders papers, travelers accounts are compared with black testimony (runaway slave accounts, WPA narratives, folklore materials) C. The world of the master 1. Paternalism: For the slaveholder this meant trying to get the slaves to become slaves (accept their social standing). The slaves accepted paternalism and in doing so were able to resist and change it (Gramsci) 2. Master and Overseer relationship: The overseer had direct contact with the slaves. The slaves tried to play both against each other. This indicated a general trend of poor whites and blacks being unable to get along. 3. Hegemonic function of the law: The law legitimated the powers of the ruling class. The slaves were able to turn tradition into a weapon. They were not allowed to own land, but they were given a garden plot--a privilege which they fought for. 4. Reformers: The reformers convinced the slaveholders that the humanization of the slave would strengthen slavery. This reform included slave marriages, keep families together, protection against cruelty. 5. The black slaves were considered part of the white family: In a positive sense it brought blacks and whites together. In a negative sense it allowed the white fathers to treat the slaves like children 6. Planter class: There was a great deal of pride being associated with the planter class. The slaves rebelled by being very courteous (feigning deference and giving bad directions) 7. Paternalism died after the war. D. Church 1. The slaves religion grew as a way of ordering the world around them and a way in which to judge it. A religion of resistance. 2. The slaves did not simply passively receive the Christian religion without modifying it with their own African heritage. 3. The owners tried to control the black religion by supervising the funerals. The whites feared insurrection plots when all the slaves gathered. The slaves retained the right of processional, hymn, and services. 4. The white preachers were one of the main vehicles in which to control black religion. The slaves frequently gave them a hard time (walking out on sermons) difficult communication, and a credibility problem. But they did contribute to the slaves spirituality 5. The slaves changed Christianity by developing a humanism, a joy of life, without the guilt of sin. They accepted the idea of an individual soul and used it as a weapon of survival. They retained some of the African folk religion with voodoo, folk medicine. They used magic to deal with natural forces beyond their control. Magic helped give the slaves their identity, separate from the Christianity of their master. 6. The slaves preferred the Baptists and the Methodists. The Baptists had a loose church structure which adopted slaves easily. The slaves like the uninhibited emotionalism of the Baptist and Methodist preachers. The slaves had their own private meetings. Call and response was one aspect that was changed. E. Work 1. The black work ethic represented a defense against an enforced system of economic exploitation. The slaves had a very difficult time accepting clock regulated, industrial clock time 2. Thus the slaves were considered a lazy people. They simply used techniques of slowness and ineptitude to rebel against the white system of oppression. The whites tolerated their inability because they believed that Africans were not as mentally able as Anglo-Saxons 3. Dubois said that the different black work ethic was due to the difference between the white bourgeoisie social system and the black “communistic social system F. The privileged blacks (servants, drivers, free Negroes, mulattos) 1. House servants: Usually these were the lighter mulattos (about 25% of all slaves were mulatto). Positive: Fed better, better clothing and quarters. Negative: mistreatment, sexual advances on women, constantly lived among the whites. 2. Foremen (drivers) were the most important slaves. In charge of the other slaves during the work day. The owner had a great deal of loyalty to a good driver. 3. Free Negroes: They inspired fear and apprehension among the old southern whites. These blacks were not segregated, they lived throughout the town. 4. Miscegenation: Dubois said that this was painful and beautiful. Painful in that sex was forced on the black women. Beautiful in that the slave woman became the medium by which two great races were unified. 5. The duality of the black experience appeared in the kind of English spoken on the farms and plantations. Black English 6. Conclusion: Even the privileged blacks had difficult lives G. Family 1. Slave names: Names identified class and status. Surnames were a privilege. After the war ex-slaves often took the surname of their master 2. The myth of the absent family: The Moynihan Report claimed that the failure of the black fathers today was due to the weak family life during slave times. The contradiction is that the black slave family was very strong 3. The slaves brought with them from Africa a moral code. 2 conclusions: (1) The slaves furnished their own standards of morality and sexuality that differed from whites but would not be judged harshly by today’s standards. (2) Slaves believed that good Christians did not sin if they slept out of wedlock with another Christian (Marriages were often open and involuntary) 4. Black husbands sometimes abused their wives, but they also risked their own lives protecting their wives from the sexual advances of whites. Fathers also provided for their families by hunting and fishing 5. Wives often tried to strengthen the emasculated mans self-esteem 6. Children: most did not work until after the age 10. SO they helped their parents with babies and garden plots. The children devised many games to fill their time. Many white and black children played together 7. Old Folks: Many slaveowners took care of the old black slaves. Many others were neglected 8. The home: Strengthened the slave family. Gardens were kept for food, and sometimes tobacco was raised for small sale H. Revolt: A break in the slave ideology of resistance in accommodation 1. Revolts: Some slaves did not accept paternalism and the result was revolt. The significance of revolt lies neither in the frequency or extent, but in their existence as a class war. Ex. Nat Turner had a small rebellion but gained attention do to the number of whites that were killed 2. “The slaves’ success in forging a world of their own within a wider world shaped primarily by their oppressors sapped their will to revolt...because they themselves were creating conditions worth living in as slaves (594).” 3. Stealing: The slaves frequently stole from their master. Many whites took this in stride that it was apart of their nature. 4. Arson: This was a way to settle scores blacks had with whites. This happened more frequently in towns and cities than in the plantations 5. Solidarity: Slaves protected and supported each other in their acts of resistance 6. Runaways: The boldest slaves tried to escape into freedom. They ran from the whip, to find loved ones

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Genovese's is an account of slavery based upon a class-based system of dominance, reinforced by racism (p. 3). Dominance, he stresses, is not as complete as earlier historians thought. Slaves themselves limited the extent to which whites exercised dominance, for example by developing African-American religion (p. 6). Another source of resistance was embedded in the very relationship between overseer and slaves (p. 21). The slave might take their grievances to the master directly when treated badl Genovese's is an account of slavery based upon a class-based system of dominance, reinforced by racism (p. 3). Dominance, he stresses, is not as complete as earlier historians thought. Slaves themselves limited the extent to which whites exercised dominance, for example by developing African-American religion (p. 6). Another source of resistance was embedded in the very relationship between overseer and slaves (p. 21). The slave might take their grievances to the master directly when treated badly by the master. Though they might be beaten for this. the end result was usually better treatment. Also the overseer was constrained as to the lengths he could go to in inflicting brutal punishment by the need to maintain morale in order to keep slave production high. A good crop meant that overseer kept his job (p. 15). Another source of slave resistance stemmed from the ambiguities of the southern legal system (p. 28). The ambiguity existed primarily in this: slaves commit crimes against whites from time to time, if they are to be held accountable for this they must be judged to have wills (i.e., they must have a moral personality), and if they have wills they are human beings, so how can this be squared with chattel slavery? The result of this vicious circle was that masters appeared to their slaves as hypocritical, even weak. Slaves took advantage of this (p. 30). Genovese's section on Slave work ethic is an especially interesting compliment to that of Herbert Gutman. Slaves too fought for control of production in a market-driven economy. Breaking equipment, refusing to do more than a certain amount of labor, they forced their masters to make accommodations. Wisely, enlightened masters recognized that they had to give the slave space. Resorting to a characterization of the slave worker as "lazy" and naturally averse to work, they justified the overtures they made to the slaves as "workers." Just as the northern factory manager needed to accommodate ethnic celebrations in order to curtail the worst abuses of blue Monday, so too the plantation owner allowed the slaves their corn shucking parties. Cotton production proceeded at a different pace than factories, and the nature of slave labor and the compromises it entailed were lost on the Northerners as they occupied the South after the war. In examining hegemony in the master-slave relationship, Genovese provokes a re-evaluation of what the new south would face in integrating slaves into industrial discipline. It would also seem fruitful to look comparatively at the experiences of slaves in factories and immigrant labor in factories in the south. We read about yeomen farmers identifying with planter aristocrats out of race prejudice. At the North, Irish immigrants rioted in NY after the emancipation proclamation made the war "to free the slaves." It seems unimaginable that slaves in factories in the antebellum south would not have elicited the same negative response from immigrant whites.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dan Gorman

    Impressive research; questionable conclusions; poor editing. Genovese shows that slaves could improve their conditions slightly by negotiating with and flattering their masters, and that there are records of white slave-owners who cared about their slaves. The author argues that the individualistic nature of the master-slave relationship undermined the ability of slaves to form a collective political consciousness, although this claim is hard to square with the speed with which freed slaves crea Impressive research; questionable conclusions; poor editing. Genovese shows that slaves could improve their conditions slightly by negotiating with and flattering their masters, and that there are records of white slave-owners who cared about their slaves. The author argues that the individualistic nature of the master-slave relationship undermined the ability of slaves to form a collective political consciousness, although this claim is hard to square with the speed with which freed slaves created political and community groups after emancipation. In his recognition of slaves’ agency, even if on an individual basis, Genovese shows that slaves were not simply victims, as earlier historians like Stanley Elkins suggested. There is something disturbing, however, about the extent to which Genovese assumes that white masters were good people who considered their slaves to be members of the family. Genovese acknowledges that paternalism was a fiction on page 4, yet most of the book is devoted to an almost too charitable reading of slaveholders. I felt as though Genovese was trying to avoid the crueler aspects of whites’ slave ownership. Similarly, I suspect that a lot of slaves who kowtowed before their masters gritted their teeth through the experience and wished they did not have to live under white “paternalism.” Is Genovese too credulous? As for slave religion, Genovese’s analysis is half-right. He correctly identifies slave Christianity’s message of resilience, but argues that the religion dissuaded blacks from rebelling or running away. In individual cases, this probably happened. In general, though, slave religion gave freedmen a readymade political network upon emancipation. Genovese does much to detail labor roles on plantations and the daily drudgery of the slave South, but his admirable portrayal of African American slave agency ironically handicaps our understanding of slavery. He harps too much on the agency of white masters and bizarrely denies the existence of black politics in bondage. The book is also far too long — extensive block quotes from sources are provided, instead of short embedded quotes — and jumps around in terms of content and time period. Perhaps Genovese aimed for an anthropological description of slave life more than a linear historical narrative, but the book reads like a first draft, from which Genovese refused to cut anything. Helpful external reviews of the book: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1901342, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1863912, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2701223.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brook

    Approaching the book, I knew that Genovese himself has been a polarizing figure (he started his career as a communist, and by the end of his life had shifted to a rather extreme conservative position, and returned to the Catholic faith of his youth) and also that the book is still considered one of the key formative texts on its area of study. I didn’t know much about how the book is viewed and used today. Thankfully I encountered a podcast that covered this thoroughly - The Age of Jackson -- ep Approaching the book, I knew that Genovese himself has been a polarizing figure (he started his career as a communist, and by the end of his life had shifted to a rather extreme conservative position, and returned to the Catholic faith of his youth) and also that the book is still considered one of the key formative texts on its area of study. I didn’t know much about how the book is viewed and used today. Thankfully I encountered a podcast that covered this thoroughly - The Age of Jackson -- episode 6 “Eugene Genovese’s Roll Jordan Roll [1974] with Joshua D. Rothman” from February 15, 2018. Apparently this was the 2nd in their History of History (Historiography) series, that seeks to understand the historiography of slavery around the period of Jackson’s life. It was really helpful to get his perspective, particularly that of a professor studying the field (Rothman is in the University of Alabama Dept of History, who is written a good bit on slavery) and a graduate student in history (Daniel Gullotta, the host of the podcast). While criticism of the book seems to have mounted over time, everything I read/heard on the book seems to at least share some level of gratitude for the book. Particularly, the scope of the work (covering slavery in the US as a whole) is praised, even by those who take issue with it. Also its value in comparing slavery in the US to other countries in the Americas, something that seems to have been done little if it all before, is recognized. And this is part of what drew me to this book -- a single text that deals with this topic thoroughly. From what I've learned about Genovese since reading the book, I may have approached it a bit more skeptically, knowing what I know now.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Jr.

    The book contains an impressive amount of research on a myriad of topics related to slaves and slavery. But as you read one can't help wondering why the arc of the book keeps returning to the idea that maybe slavery wasn't all bad. The author makes sure to indicate the extremes, the abuses, but invariably then tilts the balance to suggest that most masters were good, treated slaves well, etc. I can't tell if that was intentional or if my sensitivity to such a conclusion is what weighs more heavi The book contains an impressive amount of research on a myriad of topics related to slaves and slavery. But as you read one can't help wondering why the arc of the book keeps returning to the idea that maybe slavery wasn't all bad. The author makes sure to indicate the extremes, the abuses, but invariably then tilts the balance to suggest that most masters were good, treated slaves well, etc. I can't tell if that was intentional or if my sensitivity to such a conclusion is what weighs more heavily in that direction. Nevertheless there is a ton of information here for the researcher.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leandro Dutra

    I just loved it as a Christian and as a History freak. Based on extensive exploration of oral History and other records from slaves, slaveholders and observers of slavery in the US, what began as an exploration of how slaves influenced the world of slaveholders ended up, as the title hints, as a record of the witness that preachers but specially slave converts gave of their faith and its power to change people and societies.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda Jeffries-summers

    This balanced, capacious history of slavery from Colonial times to Reconstruction is a classic that keeps on giving. It deftly analyzes the contributions of the slave, free, abolitionist, and planter classes to the upper South, tidewater, low country, and deep South, and makes affirmative contrasts to the Carribbean and Brazilian slavery circumstances. It is written in a smooth, narrative non-fiction style.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adelaide Mcginnity

    Roll, Jordan, Roll is absolutely a must read for anyone interested in a full understanding of American slavery and its effects. Genovese is a fantastic writer of prose, and the work is fully accessible to the lay reader in spite of its impeccable scholarship and status within the field of history. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    Took me forever to finish this book. Encyclopedic in its detail, far more information than I was able to absorb. More textbook than entertainment, and I definitely learned a great deal of new information. Interesting read for the committed historian.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Rosenthal

    A classic.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elliot Kaufman

    Detailed history of U.S. slavery that got me thinking more than I'd expected. Detailed history of U.S. slavery that got me thinking more than I'd expected.

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