Home > Suggested Reading

Some Very Good Books on a Very Wide Variety of Topics


Aron, Steven  How the West Was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky from Daniel Boone to Henry Clay (2009)

Reveals how the westward expansion of southern slavery meant the displacement and eradication of Native Americans


Alexander, Michelle The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness (2012)

Documents how the racist legacies of plantation slavery corrupt law, undermine justice, and exploit people of color today throughout today’s prison systems.


Bales, Kevin Disposable People: The New Slavery and the Global Economy  (2004)

The “go to” introduction to what the “new slavery” is and how it works across the globe


Ball, Erica  To Live an Antislavery Life: Personal Politics and the Antebellum  Black Middle Class (2012)

A revealing analysis of why and how free African Americans mobilized against slavery in the antebellum South and racism in the (nominally) free antebellum North


Barnes, L. Diane, Frederick Douglass: Reformer and Statesman (2013)

An outstanding brief biography this preeminent black abolitionist


Berlin, Ira, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (1992)

A rich account of slavery’s development before the during the 17th and 18th centuries, before the rise of the South’s “cotton kingdom”


Blackmon, Douglas, Slavery By Another Name: The Reenslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to W.W.II (2008)

A Pulitzer Prize account of how slavery survived the Civil War by capturing the Southern prison system and by subjecting black farmers to debt peonage. The 13th Amendment did not succeed in abolishing slavery.


Childs, Dennis, Slaves of the State: Black Incarceration from the Chain
Gang to the Penitentiary

A forceful and convincing examination of the evolution of post-1865 re-enslavement of African Americans and other people of color from chain gangs and prison farms to today’s prison industrial complex.

Cimbala, Paul and Miller, Randall (eds.), The Great Task Remaining Before Us: Reconstruction as America’s Continuing Civil War (2010)

Original essays that illuminate the many divisive legacies of slavery that emerged in the aftermath of emancipation


Craig, Gary Child Slavery Now: A Contemporary Reader (2010)

A comprehensive collection of original essays by an exceptional group of authors on many aspects of contemporary child slavery in many parts of the world.


Daniels, Pete, In the Shadow of Slavery: Debt Peonage in the Old South

Documents in compelling detail the post-Civil War re-enslavement of African American farm families through debt peonage systems that persisted until the end of W.W. II


Davis, David Brion, Slavery and Human Progress (1998)

Illuminates how slavery systems and movements to abolish them developed their conflicting moral justifications during the 18th and 19th centuries.


DeStefano, Anthony M. The War on Human Trafficking: U.S. Policy Assessed (2008)

A brief but comprehensive account of recent US Government policies to combat slavery and trafficking and the ongoing controversies these policies have generated (2009)


Drescher, Seymour, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery (2009)

The most comprehensive account available of the rise and fall of global slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries and its reappearance in the 20th as massive systems of coerced labor


Fagan-Yellin, Jean, Harriet Jacobs: A Life (2008)

An extraordinary biography of an extraordinary black abolitionist and former slave, Harriet Jacobs, accompanied by Jacob’s autobiography, an antislavery classic.


Horton, Lois and Horton, James O., In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1750-1860

The definitive history of free northern Black Americans’ resistance to slavery, segregation and white supremacist ideology before the Civil war


Kara, Siddarth, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (2010)

Kara, Siddarth, Bonded labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia (2012)

Two deeply researched economic analyses that employ empirical data to develop detailed explanations of slavery in all its forms throughout South Asia

Leflouria, Talitha, Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South (2015)

Vividly reconstructs and persuasively interprets the lives of African American women being exploited by and resisting the “slavery by another name” that developed in the post-Civil War South

McDaniel, Caleb, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery (2013)

Reveals the vitality of abolitionists’ ideas and actions in nourishing democratic values in the age of transatlantic slavery


Malarek, Victor , The Johns: Sex for Sale and The Men who Buy it (NY: Arcade, 2009)

Malarek, Victor , The Natashas


Mason, Matthew, Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic (2006)

Explains why and how politicians before the Civil War were drawn into controversies
over slavery and what made therm decide whether or not to move form “talk” to action.


Morgan, Edmund, American Slavery/American Freedom: The Ordeal of revolutionary Virginia (1982)

Explains how American colonists mobilized their Revolution against British tyranny while defending the enslavement of Africans


Murphy, Laura T. , Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives (2014)

Laura Murphy offers close to forty survivor narratives from Cambodia, Ghana, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States, detailing the horrors of a system that forces people to work without pay and against their will, under the threat of violence, with little or no means of escape. Representing a variety of circumstances in diverse contexts, these survivors are the Frederick Douglasses, Sojourner Truths, and Olaudah Equianos of our time, testifying to the widespread existence of a human rights tragedy and the urgent need to address it.


Oshinsky, David M., “Worse Than Slavery:” Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (NY: Free Press, 1997).


Quirk, Joel, The Antislavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking (2011)

A comprehensive transnational analysis developed over three centuries of the histories of slavery systems and movements to abolish them


Rediker, Marcus The Slave Ship: A Human History (2008)

Explores in moving detail the most disturbing aspects of transporting 9 million Africans across the Atlantic to the Western Hemisphere.


Robertson, Stacey, Hearts Beating for Liberty: Women Abolitionists in the Old Northwest (2010)

Delineates the central roles of activist women in mobilizing and sustaining the American abolitionist movement


Shelley, Louise, Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective (2010)

A comprehensive country-by-country comparative overview of sexual enslavement developed with historical perspective


Skinner, E. Benjamin, A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern-Day Slavery (2008)

Antislavery journalism at its very best presents the appalling realities of slavery today


Stewart, James Brewer, Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery (1997)

A compact, widely-read historical account of the American abolitionist movement from the 17th century through the end of Reconstruction


Taylor, Nikki M., Frontiers of Freedom: Cincinnati’s Black Community, 1802-1880 (2005)

A revealing study of African American community development and activism in one of antebellum America’s most racist cities.