THE WORLD THE SLAVEHOLDERS MADE by Eugene D. Genovese

THE WORLD THE SLAVEHOLDERS MADE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Certainly one of the most important new studies in American history, this sequel to The Political Economy of Slavery is in some ways more exciting than its predecessor and more original. The book comprises two essays: one compares the Old South with other slaveholding systems in the hemisphere, and one explores the thought of George Fitzhugh in relation to Genovese's general claims about the antebellum slaveholders of the United States. Genovese takes pains to distinguish and refine his theses about the fundamental character of the Old South's regime, its paternalism, anti-capitalist spirit and pre-bourgeois productive mode within a market economy. While he abjures using Fitzhugh's polemics to epater American capitalism, in effect that dimension becomes a major one. Genovese's jousts with other historians are as lucid as they are abundant. He justifiably reproves American leftist historians who neglect important work by scholars of unpalatable persuasions, and by word and example trounces vulgar economic determinists. The essays have the flavor of working papers, with the force and exactitude of a Hobsbawn (to pick one of Genovese's preceptors). Apart from the academic discussion it will precipitate, the book has a broader appeal than The Political Economy of Slavery, owing to its adumbration of class-and-race questions in general terms, and its ventures into comparative history.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1969
Publisher: Pantheon