Posted in Adult Nonfiction, Book, Book Review, Reading

SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME by Douglas A. Blackmon

Slavery_by_Another_Name_(book_cover)Slavery By Another Name:

The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

This has been the most difficult book review I have yet to write.  I have amended and deleted and written and rewritten pieces and parts and all of this review.

After reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and then The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, I found myself reading Slavery By Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon.

A web of tragic circumstances of my country’s history, both past and current, has held my interest in each and all three of these books.  I wanted to know more.  I am so saddened that this country could have been so inhumane to its own citizens.  How could I be so naive and not know that this kind of history had gone on long past the Civil War?  Yes, I am naive, but I have a heart that cares so was drawn into wanting to know what happened to the Black Americans who had won their freedom through the Civil War, through the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This book, of almost 500 pages, is a powerful read.  It is well written and referenced to the hilt.  Mr. Blackmon did his homework.  It is about “industrial slavery,” “Black Codes,” “convict laborers,” “peonage,” “debt peonage,” “forced labor,” and so much more.  Rather than go into all that this book is, as I first intended, I will leave you to decide whether you want to know more about a rather large and terrible chunk of history of the United States that has basically been hidden, not taught in history classes, nor exposed so thoroughly as Mr. Blackmon does.

It, indeed, was “slavery” under a different name.

Douglas Blackmon’s words say more than all that I have deleted that were my own words:

“As a Wall Street Journal reporter, Mr. Blackmon wrote a piece ‘asking a provocative question: What would be revealed if American corporations were examined through the same sharp lens of historical confrontation as the one then being trained on German corporations that relied on Jewish slave labor during World War II and the Swiss banks that robbed victims of the Holocaust of their fortunes?’  This story described the post-Civil War corporate use of forced black labor in the South.  It received more response than any other piece he had written which led to the writing of this book.”

“In the book’s epilogue, Blackmon argues for the importance of acknowledging this history of forced labor:

‘the evidence moldering in county courthouses and the National Archives compels us to confront this extinguished past, to recognize the terrible contours of the record, to teach our children the truth of a terror that pervaded much of American life, to celebrate its end, to lift any shame on those who could not evade it. This book is not a call for financial reparations. Instead, I hope it is a formidable plea for a resurrection and fundamental reinterpretation of a tortured chapter in the collective American past.'”

I thank you, Mr. Blackmon.  Your book was tough to read, but this chapter in history gave me even more compassion towards my fellow human beings who just happen to have darker skin than I have.

I am so sorry that people of my skin color did this and other horrific things to you, my Black sisters and brothers.

The Slavery by Another Name documentary was broadcast in February 2012.  The entire film can be watched online @


2009 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
a New York Times bestseller in both hardback and soft cover editions
a 2009 American Book Award
the 2009 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters non-fiction book prize
a 2008 Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Award
the NAACP Freedom Fund Outstanding Achievement Award
and many other citations
Mr. Blackmon has been honored by the state legislature of Georgia for distinguished scholarship and service to history.
In 2010, he received the Grassroots Justice Award from the Georgia Justice Project.


Douglas A. Blackmon is co-executive producer of the acclaimed PBS documentary of the same name. His is also the executive producer and host of American Forum, a public affairs program produced at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and aired weekly on more than 250 PBS affiliates across the U.S.

He was the longtime chief of The Wall Street Journal’s Atlanta bureau and the paper’s Senior National Correspondent until 2012, when he joined the faculty of the University of Virginia and became a contributing editor at the Washington Post.

Prior to his work at The Wall Street Journal, Blackmon was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he covered race and politics in Atlanta until 1995. Earlier, he was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat in 1986-1987, and co-owner and managing editor of the Daily Record from 1987 to 1989, both in Little Rock, Ark.

Raised in Leland, Miss., Blackmon penned his first newspaper story for the weekly Leland Progress at the age of 12.  (He became drawn into the racial issues of the South through this article.)  He received his degree in English from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.  He lives in downtown Atlanta and Charlottesville, Va.

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780385722704
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 01/13/2009
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 7.98(w) x 5.12(h) x 1.03(d

linking up with:  Teach Mentor Texts, Unleashing Readers, Book Musing Mondays, What to Read WednesdayKid Lit Blog Hop, Booknificent Thursdays, The Book NookLiterary Friday, Semicolon Saturday, Reading List/Cozy Reading SpotBook Review Blog Hop


I am a quiet woman growing each day in the LORD. Christ is my home. He is the well from which I drink. I became His 25 years ago. I am 71 so that is actually a small percentage of my life through which I could have walked closely with Him. No matter, He never stopped waiting for me. I am now a widow from a Christ-centered marriage of 25 years to Kenneth. I praise God for him. I miss him so. We had no children. I feel God’s call to be His light in this dark world. I am grateful for the love God gives to me so I may give it away. I live in Lufkin, Texas, USA (in Deep East Texas/Pineywoods). I have taught Women’s Sunday School/Bible Study, co-administrated/taught a teen girls’ annual conference. I participate in women’s Bible studies in church as well as on my own. I am a retired elementary school teacher, having taught in California, Washington, D.C., and have taught older children and adults in Oregon and Texas. I also retired from being a children’s librarian in the public library system, a job I thoroughly loved. I tutored primary-aged children who are falling behind in those early years of school until we moved in May 2017.

12 thoughts on “SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME by Douglas A. Blackmon

  1. I definitely want to read this one, Linda. I’m glad you’ve brought it to our attention, and have encouraged us not to shy away from the hard stuff. Crying over the sins of our country isn’t a bad thing to do….and then working for change. Thank you, friend.


  2. Looks like one we should all read and then “apply” to our worldview. We are so blinded and think “slavery” is no longer happening in our country (not to mention throughout the world). I will add this to my “wish list” of books. Thanks for sharing with #What to Read Wednesday.


    1. Yes, Trena, this should be a book we would all want and need to read, yet many will shy away due to its depth and the truth many would rather not see.
      Thanks for coming by and reading this review, writing such a meaningful comment.


    2. Yes, Trena, this should be a book we would all want and need to read, yet many will shy away due to its depth and the truth many would rather not see.
      Thanks for coming by and reading this review, writing such a meaningful comment.


  3. I homeschool my HS daughter, and she actually studied this topic in depth last year in American History. It was a Christian curricula that actually explained how through the covenant Christians have with God (i.e.Christians of all colors and creeds) slavery was eradicated from Christendom. It wasn’t until a war between Muslims and Europeans (the Portuguese) in Northern Africa that introduced slavery back into Christendom. Black African Slaves owned by North African Muslims were found once the Muslims were defeated, and the slaves were brought to Portugal by Henry. His intent was to let them live freely in Europe, but they were eventually enslaved by the Portuguese. There is no excuse for slavery and Christians knew better. My daughter also saw many of the thousands of photos of Christian slave owners and their families and slaves (archived in the Library of Congress). They dressed them up and “treated them like a member of the family.” This was common practice, and it was disturbing. We also learned all about the Jim Crow laws. BTW the grandfather clause was started by a black plantation owner in Alabama. He owned almost all of Green County. His last name was Brown, and he put in his will to give his slaves their freedom upon his death. He had several sons who didn’t want that, so they came up with the grandfather clause. Now we have a justice system that isn’t fair. Sorry about the long post, but I’m grateful that my daughter had the opportunity to learn about such an important and disturbing part of our history. But I refuse to have white guilt over something that happened before I was born. Instead, I’m trying very hard to be kind to everyone and welcoming to people of color in our church and community. Great post, and I appreciate your linking-up to Literary Friday so much!

    Ricki Jill


  4. I can imagine that this was a really tough review to write and a tough book to read as well. Can you tell me if this would be an appropriate read for a high schooler? What ages would you say could handle it? Thanks for sharing this post at Booknificent Thursday!


    1. This was a really tough book, emotionally, for me to read. Unless you high schooler is studying slavery and is a good reader, I do not think I would recommend it. BUT…I do believe that it is a subject that needs to be approached with all adults because I had NO IDEA that this went on. NO IDEA!! It was a Pulitzer Prize winner. Very well written, but it also has many black and white photos that are tough to see. The punishments and the ways they kept the slaves…the more I write, the less I feel that it would be okay. But I was a quiet kid and do not think I could have handled it back then. I had a hard time at age 67 but I am so interested in this age of history that I handle it now!


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