Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War

Liveright. Oct. 2021. 464p. ISBN 9781631495823. $35. HIST
Award-winning reporter French (journalism, Columbia Univ.; China’s Second Continent) argues that citizens of Western countries too-often believe that their nation’s economic power is the simple byproduct of its own success. Oftentimes, there is little to no credit given to the enslaved African who paid the ultimate price for white nations’ wealth and prestige; French aims to correct the record in this book. He seamlessly guides readers through an immense 600-year global history of slavery, skillfully weaving in his own anecdotal experiences. French argues that it is time for historians to full-throatedly acknowledge that the events that marked significant global change (the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, industrialization) could not have happened without stealing the labor and resources of enslaved Africans throughout the Atlantic world. There are few words that can express the resounding impact of French’s breathtaking work on the known historiography of African and African American history.
VERDICT Highly recommended for any audience (professional or general) with an interest in African or African diaspora studies, history of the Atlantic slave trade, the Atlantic world, pre-industrialization, U.S. history, general world history, or sociology.
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