BLACK BONDAGE: The Life of Slaves in the South by Walter Goodman

BLACK BONDAGE: The Life of Slaves in the South

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mr. Goodman's concise description of various aspects of slave life--arrival, work, play, punishment, the family--serves to supplement the chronological histories of the Negro in America and to enlarge the American social spectrum generally. His findings accord with those of current historiography; his narrative is fluent and laced with eyewitness quotations. The book has, however, little of the impact of To Be A Slave as a testimonial and none of the documentary value of the Milton Meltzer volume: in only a few cases are the sources of the quotations given, and then not specifically, while many are not dated. In an area as controversial as this, any author's emphasis is open to question; Mr. Goodman chooses, for example, to stress religion as an emotional release (with its attendant forms) rather than to examine its dual effects, submission and rebellion. But overall the book is more concerned with circumstances than with consequences, which is not a criticism; this also has its benefits, as in the last chapter, ""Resistance,"" which treats not only of insurrection and running away but also of such silent protests as lightening the work and stealing the master's goods. Particularly, then, for its close--up of the commonplace, this should prove useful despite its deficiencies. (Not so the bibliography, which includes none of the relevant juveniles or recent adult studies [except for Black Cargoes], features instead slave accounts which, though obviously valuable, are difficult to locate, especially without current publication data.)

Pub Date: April 14th, 1969
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux