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Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete
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Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  352 ratings  ·  56 reviews
From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe, African American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, their on-the-field heroics admired and stratospheric earnings envied. But for all their money, fame, and achievement, says New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibilli ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 11th 2006 by Crown (first published 2006)
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Jamal105
Sep 07, 2007 Jamal105 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in reading it.
Shelves: sports
This book is a must read especially for those among us who claim that these Million Dollar athletes should do more in the community. While that is a valid conversation, those same people who say this, never take the time to understand the centuries old games and institutions that are at work here. Also, why isn't this book on the New York Times Best Seller List, while Tyler Perry's "Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life " is? Just one o ...more
Vannessagrace Vannessagrace
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to write a review befitting this book and came up with nothing. For me, the best way for this book to be reviewed is quotes taken directly from the book.

Forty Million Dollar Slaves is an important read if we want to understand the black athlete.

“In their failure to heed the lessons of history, today’s black athletes are squandering the best opportunities yet for acquiring real power in the sports industry.” P. 2

“Ignorance of the past makes it diffi
...more
TheFountainPenDiva
Okay, let me get this off my chest first. Only ONE chapter dedicated to the presence/contributions of Black women in sports? Really? Granted, author William C. Rhoden acknowledges his lack but it doesn't excuse it, especially because his historical scholarship of Black male sports figures was so rich and detailed. Damn right, this is not only problematic but a typical narrative when it comes to documenting and acknowledging Black women's lives. We see this erasure in mainstream feminism, and it' ...more
Ryan Mishap
"Integration in sports--as opposed to integration at the ballot box or in public conveyances--was a winning proposition for the whites who controlled the sports-industrial complex. They could move to exploit black muscle and talent, thus sucking the life out of black institutions, while at the same time giving themselves credit for being humanitarians."

The quote above gives you a good idea of the main argument in this book that traces black athletes from slavery to modern day sports. The title a
...more
Nakia
Very eye opening. Though the first two chapters lagged a bit, it immediately became interesting when the book delved into the Jockey Syndrome, and how the decimation of the Negro baseball leagues became a symbol of the negative effects of integration. "The Conveyor Belt" chapter (driving wedges between inner city kids and their families/communities for higher profits) is especially important for Black parents.

I would've given it five stars if more time had been spent on Black female athletes. I
...more
Corrie Campbell
I appreciated Rhoden’s detailed and moving history of the black athlete. He highlights the hardships, the atrocities and the spirit to which the black athlete excelled in the face of such monumental adversity. Rhoden took us from boxing in the early 19th century; to horse-racing mid-19th century; to the Negro Leagues in the mid-20th century; and up to the modern day athletes that we intimately know. From this point of view Forty Million Dollar Slave is an excellent book.

I also see no controversy
...more
Sterling Sydney
I really really enjoyed this book. I liked the fact that the book talked about racism and how African-Americans are sometimes slaves to do they do especially as an athlete. This book talks about athletes such as, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, R. C. Owens, and Willie Mays and more. This book is so interesting because it goes it detail and gives a good understanding point of view.

My favorite part of the book was basically the entire book. I liked the authors take on everything. I liked that the au
...more
Tippy Jackson
The story of Michael Jordan being shut out from ownership after coming out of retirement for the wizards was something I was completely unfamiliar with and I found it appalling. Also, this book offered an interesting perspective on the famous Jackie Robinson story and his role in baseball history. Well written and interesting, even for very non-sports following people like me.
Andrew
Adrian Peterson, an NFL football star, was criticized recently for making a comparison between his job and slavery. Even in the current context of labor disputes between owners and players in the NFL and NBA, such an idea seems laughable. Yet, it has gained some traction among athletes. I wanted to read a little about the subject to figure out why some people believe this.

I first became aware of this book when I heard that it was the only book Kemba Walker, one of the top college basketball play
...more
Lauren
I’m not even going to bother with the niceties. Here’s a brief sampling of what didn’t work about this book:
(1) If your book reads like an angry op ed run in a college newspaper, you did not do enough research.
(2) Primary sources. They’re awesome. Try them sometime.
(3) If you’re going to talk about black women in sports and you only give a cursory mention to the Williams sister and Cheryl Miller – to say nothing about Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, et al. – you’re not doing your job.
(4) If you’re
...more
Wingedbeaver
Race is a touchy subject. The pretense of any argument about it is kind of a Catch-22. If you're white you're not allowed to comment or your opinion is of no value, which means only the minority groups get to discuss it. How are we supposed to move forward when only one group gets any say? I'm pretty sure that's how we got here in the first place. 40 Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden is a book about the black athlete and all the problems they still face today. To properly discuss the bo ...more
Della S.white
Adrian Peterson, an NFL football star, was criticized recently for making a comparison between his job and slavery. Even in the current context of labor disputes between owners and players in the NFL and NBA, such an idea seems laughable. Yet, it has gained some traction among athletes. I wanted to read a little about the subject to figure out why some people believe this.

I first became aware of this book when I heard that it was the only book Kemba Walker, one of the top college basketball play
...more
Della S.white
Adrian Peterson, an NFL football star, was criticized recently for making a comparison between his job and slavery. Even in the current context of labor disputes between owners and players in the NFL and NBA, such an idea seems laughable. Yet, it has gained some traction among athletes. I wanted to read a little about the subject to figure out why some people believe this.

I first became aware of this book when I heard that it was the only book Kemba Walker, one of the top college basketball play
...more
Nikita T. Mitchell
Jun 23, 2008 Nikita T. Mitchell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone, particularly african-american athletes for whom it is a MUST READ.
Shelves: recommendations
This book provides a great historical account of the progression of African-Americans in sports. There was so much that I never knew and that all black folks need to be knowledgeable about - particularly the athletes in our communities.

The book was supposed to provide a discussion on "The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete." While Rhoden did a phenomenal job with the "Rise" and provided great insights into the "Fall," I was hoping for a bit more for the "Redemption" aspect. He prov
...more
Joshua
William Rhoden's book is essentially about how we went from two black men raising their firsts at the 1968 to Michael Jordan wrapping himself in the American flag after winning the gold medal thirty years later. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were protesting the treatment of black people in America; Michael Jordan was hiding the Reebok logo on his warmups.

"I feel very strongly about loyalty to my own company," Jordan explained.

Rhoden makes some interesting points, and tells some great stories, but
...more
Dan
I really like William Rhoden's voice in this book that's been 10 years in the making. It's definitely well thought out, but I feel torn about what the book accomplishes in the end. I feel like it's a great start... a great introduction to what it means to be a black athlete on "the conveyor belt" today, but it lacks in the end. The first half of the book is a good history lesson--dissappointingly, one which many people will not learn in school--discussing the Jockey Syndrom. The latter half of t ...more
Sylvia
This was an excellent read. If you love athletics or you are a lover of history you must read this book. All African American athletes or parents of those athletes this is a must read. I learned so much that I had all ready known but found difficult to put into words. This gave me a voice to stand for what I know is right and just. For our youth of today who may not know of struggles they need to know where and how things began and how doors were open up for them. Perhaps give them the courage a ...more
Quaam
At times I felt the book wasn't as in depth as I'd like it to be but overrall I throughly enjoyed a brief look into the difficulties faced by African-Americans in sports that many currently believe they have always dominated. Raised excellent questions about the roles of African-American superstars and was quite thought-provoking - further making me wonder if you can ever truly dismantle racism in any capitalist society. Recommended.
Martha
Rhodes proposes that while making buckets of money, Black athletes lack power in the sports industry dominated by white owners who pull them out of Black controlled schools, teams and neighborhoods, robbing those institutions of valuable resources. Written smoothly, easy to follow the premise.
Angela
A sociological history of African-American athletics, and how the community has basically been undermined repeatedly by white ownership/power structures. Really interesting, infuriating, and I didn't realize I had so much love for baseball/football history in me as I apparently do! But someone needs to make a Jackie Robinson movie. Oh wait - they did.
Jim
Nov 06, 2010 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Open-minded sports fans
Shelves: games-and-sports
An interesting take on labor relations in sports, specifically examining the history of labor relations between African-American athletes and the wealthy owners and promoters who pay them to compete. I decided to give it a look after NFL star Maurice Jones-Drew mentioned in an interview that he thought every pro athlete should read it. William Rhoden, the author, is a New York Times sports columnist, and his journalistic background means this is a very thoroughly researched and reasonably argued ...more
Scott
Jan 27, 2008 Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone - especially athletes, former athletes, people involved in athletics
A radical examination of the role of the Black male athlete in the emergence of the sports-industry complex in the United States, as well as a scathing critique of assimilationist "integration was and is good!" attitudes. As someone who grew up aware of popular sports news stories and glued to ESPN, this book is crucial in its mapping-out of the truly racist power dynamics that sustain the billion-dollar U.S. athletic industry. Rhoden brilliantly illuminates how extreme capitalism and racism com ...more
Kymon
Read this book for an Afro-Studies course. Lots of insight on the greatest black athletes of all time and the controversy surrounding the nation around them; athletes such as Joe Louis, Arthur Ashe, Jackie Robinson & Michael Jordan. Loved this book.
MsWilliamsWorld
This book is the perfect example of "where sports meets sociology/culture." Rhoden's points are even MORE valid today, especially in this sports-obsessed world we live in.
Crystal Marie
Mar 28, 2008 Crystal Marie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sports buffs, history buffs, and people interested in Black History
Recommended to Crystal Marie by: Sports in Society Professor
Shelves: black-studies
I read this book for a class in undergrad, and I was at first angry at how much I didn't know/wasn't told to me about the history of Black Americans in sports. Once I got over the initial disappointment of feeling like I've never known anything about the sports industry, I was really able to enjoy this book. There was so much history, social commentary, and information that provides a refreshing, if depressing perspective on sports. I recommend it to people who like to learn about the way the wo ...more
Matt
Jun 23, 2007 Matt rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who has paid more than twenty dollars to see a sporting event
Shelves: summer
Unfortunately, the contents of this book are not nearly as provocative as the title. Nonetheless, it should be required reading for sports fans, especially white ones. Rhoden's depiction of the African American athlete as a slave is difficult to digest, especially given the amount of money they make for the type of work that they do. However, the position of the black athlete within what Rhoden calls the "sports-industrial complex" is all too reflective of the position of the average African Ame ...more
Chris
Not bad so much as simply misnamed, a historical revue presenting itself as a book with something to say about the contemporary athlete. Only rarely. I was hoping to get something that might give me insight into the life of contemporary basketball players within the context of racial struggle. Given the inflammatory title and the, um, basketball on the cover, this didn't seem an unreasonable hope, but the treatment of everything from the Jordan era to today is too cursory to be any more than fit ...more
Robin
Feb 22, 2008 Robin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone teaching undergraduates about race, sports fans.
Recommended to Robin by: Ferentz
Shelves: teaching
Very intelligent distillation of race, class and power in the sports industrial complex. Rhoden's focus on sports helped my students connect the dots between their sports icons and racialized labor exploitation. The only drawback is the author falls woefully short on any analysis of race and masculinity. His decision to discuss gender solely in terms of women in sports is old-fashioned and strained.
Redpoet
I simply expected more than what I got.
Rhonda Walker
I really enjoyed this book, I gave some insight on what we don't see in going on in a world that's full of gilts and glam. This goes to show you that the old saying, "everything that glitters ain't gold" is true. these athletes are being used and even exploited for a fat paycheck. I guess you have to ask yourself is it worth it.
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