SLAVERY by Richard Watkins


Bondage Throughout History
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 11 - 13
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Contradictory statements, sweeping generalizations, and a general lack of focus make this history of slavery more an eye-glazer than an eye-opener. After asserting that "more often than not, slave and master were of the same ethnic or cultural group," Watkins (Gladiator, 1997) proceeds to note that the ancient Greeks, Romans, West African kingdoms, medieval Italians, Muslims, and, of course, European settlers in the Americas, all imported their slaves from elsewhere. He also mentions indentured labor in some cultures but not in America, is silent on the history of slavery in most Asian countries, and confuses the "Triangle Trade" that included European goods and ports with another triangle that did not. Except for occasional quoted or paraphrased passages from a handful of slave narratives, he seldom names specific sources for his information, and the pitifully inadequate eight-item bibliography isn't going to be much help to readers who want to delve more deeply into the subject. The drab, low-contrast illustrations feature sad-faced figures in mannered mini-dramas with captions like, "Greek warriors lead a captured girl and her baby into slavery," or "The Taino Indians would regret meeting Columbus." A final chapter on modern child slavery, including a short profile of murdered young activist Iqbal Masih, gives this a topical leg up on Ofosu-Appiah's People in Bondage: A World History of Slavery (1993), but Watkins has turned a heart- and gut-wrenching subject into a clumsy, extended term paper. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-395-92289-5
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001


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