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Charles R. Foy review of David Brion Davis, “Inhuman Bondage,” in Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 27:1 (Winter 2010): 84-87.

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Winter 2010


Despite the greater acceptance of the importance of slavery in our history, neither the public nor college students are well informed on the subject. To remedy this circumstance, David Brion Davis set out to provide a synthetic narrative of the history of slavery in the Americas that could connect with the general public and serve as a textbook. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World succeeds on both counts. Davis argues that enslavement results from what he terms “animalization” in which enslaved people were treated like animals being domesticated. This process of focusing on the animal traits all humans “share and fear” allowed slave masters to deny “the redeeming rational and spiritual qualities” of the enslaved that would otherwise have bound the two together.

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