ECONOMICS

The Stolen Wealth of Slavery: A Case for Reparations

Legacy Lit Feb. 2024. 368p. ISBN 9780306827174. $30. ECON
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There is a perception that the guilt for historical enslavement in the United States adheres primarily to the South. Investigative journalist Montero (Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network) disabuses readers of that notion. He shows that shipping and banking interests on Wall Street accumulated a far greater profit than the Southern plantations, which were often heavily indebted to bankers in the North. The book links vast stories of wealth to banks and corporations still in existence today. They are entities that have never suffered any loss or repercussions for their part in this blood-soaked past. With palpable anger, Montero methodically walks readers through the shipping trade from Southern ports and English mills to Wall Street banks. He notes how indebted plantation owners often used the people they enslaved as collateral for loans. When a Southern business failed, the Northern banks ended up taking possession of the enslaved people and reselling them. The common story is of the sins of the South in holding people in bondage, but the story Montero tells is of how the entire country was complicit during enslavement and how fortunes built on enslavement persist.
VERDICT Montero persuasively argues that profitable businesses owe reparations to people who continue to suffer from historic injustices.
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