A Brief History of Slavery, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


A thought-provoking and important book that raises essential issues crucial not only for our past but also the present day. In this panoramic history, Jeremy Black tells how slavery was first developed in the ancient world, and reaches all the way to present day and the contemporary crimes of trafficking and bonded labour.

He shows how slavery has taken many forms throughout history and across the world - from the uprising of Spartacus, the plantations of the Indies, and the murderous forced labour of the gulags and concentration camps. Slavery helped consolidated transoceanic empires and helped mould new world societies such as America and Brazil.

In the Atlantic trade, Black also looks at the controversial area of how complicit the African peoples were in the trade.

He then charts the long fight for abolition in the 19th century, including both the campaigners as well as the lost voices of the slaves themselves who spoke of their misery. Finally, as Black points out, slavery has not been completely abolished today and coerced labour can be found closer to home than is comfortable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Slavery & abolition of slavery
  • ISBN: 9781849016896



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I read this book for the social injustice theme for February. I have always been interested in different aspects of history, so looking at the history of slavery was the choice for this month. It is a short book and the author tried to give us a brief introduction into the origins and different kind of slavery up to now into our modern world. He managed this quite well; also at times paragraphs were convoluted when he tried to cram too many details into it. Another setback was that the author at times started an account or a thought but didn't follow it through. However, despite these minor setbacks this was quite a fascinating little book which could easily be used as a reference point for individual interests in slavery. What I also found particularly intriguing were his explanations about serfdom, something which was extremely popular in Germany from the early middle ages to the late 19th Century. Normally not titled as slavery, but when you actually look a bit closer you can see that it wasn't anything other than slavery disguised with a different name. I definitely can recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic, to use it as a reference point to explore deeper into the different eras, the political implications and benefits, the social agreement and all the other reasons behind slavery.