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The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  317 ratings  ·  50 reviews
American Book Award Winner 2016

The American Slave Coast offers a provocative vision of US history from earliest colonial times through emancipation that presents even the most familiar events and figures in a revealing new light.

Authors Ned and Constance Sublette tell the brutal story of how the slavery industry made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as
Hardcover, 752 pages
Published October 1st 2015 by Lawrence Hill Books
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Petra wonders how life without books would be?
Abandoned! But still a 5 star book. How could that be? The first half of this book is about slaving as an alternate economy replacing cash and banks. Jefferson was a key player in cutting out the middleman - the British - and breeding slaves himself, both as a business and rape, his personal perversion, one widely popular among wealthy white men at that time.

It is always rape when the other person is unable to consent, and since the slaves were not recognised as people only as chattel, the same
To understand ourselves at any point in history, we need to have the knowledge of what has shaped us- globally, culturally, politically, financially. When the technology of ocean travel improved to the degree that European nations could conquer, colonize and capitalize upon the resources of the new countries which they discovered, labourers became essential. In America, particularly the Southern States, that labour became negro slaves.

This book offers deep insight and revealing knowledge of Ame
Harry Allagree
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My first comment is that I'm not sure why the name of Constance Sublette, wife of Ned Sublette, isn't included as co-author above with his name.

This is probably the most important political history book that I've read in my lifetime. It provides a key understanding, not only of what the U.S. Civil War was all about, but also why many white people of Deep South heritage, particularly current politicians, think & make decisions as they do, and how the American Constitution has often been deliberat
Elizabeth Burton
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I bought the book based on a Daily Kos essay that used it as a reference. It sounded fascinating; and it is, but not just because of its wonderfully detailed rendition of how the United States economy was established on a foundation of black bodies. What gives the reader chills are the many parallels of that economy with the one we have now, and how modern "slave merchants" are using the same rationale and methods to keep labor under their corporate thumb.

I gave the Sublettes' book my highest ra
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most amazing, comprehensive and disturbing books I’ve ever read on American history. And the book covers a large chunk of the American timeline, from the beginning of European colonization, to the end of the Civil war. The Sublette’s supplant the paternalistic view of slavery popularized in Margaret Mitchell’s “ Gone with the Wind” and the subsequent popular movie made from it. The Picture of slavery that the authors paint is categorized by its utter brutality and inhumanity. ...more
Polly Krize
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As a primarily fiction reader, I found this book to be long but informative. A definitive history of the slave breeding practices in eighteenth century America. Using human beings as capital and savings accounts is a repugnant theme, but this well researched and well presented book cannot help but impress the reader. The struggle between breeding and importing slaves was new to me, as well as the huge political and economic impact t
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Regardless of whether or not you are interested in the Civil War, if you are American you should read this book.

The Sublettes present a detailed history of slavery and how it was necessary to the Southern econcomy. The writing is good.
Cherie Claire
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In 1808 the importation of slaves ceased in America, cutting off the supply of slave labor from Africa to the U.S. agricultural industry. From that time to slavery’s abolishment during the Civil War, captive African American women were used as breeders to continue the slave trade, the sale of their children bringing profits to their owners and feeding the southern economy based on slavery.
This despicable practice of using human beings for reproduction is the subject of a massive new work by Ned
Amazing book - it made me hate Thomas Jefferson even more.
Rick Edwards
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ned and Constance Sublette have produced a book that is required reading for any serious student of U.S. history. It is in fact the story of the institution of chattel slavery in this country. Its legal origins are documented, as is its intricate involvement in the war for independence from Great Britain. Our revered Constitution entailed multiple accommodations to slavery and slaveholders. The first century of American independence is the story of the economics of slave power. Very few of our f ...more
Denise Henry
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This facutal, historical, very dense and detailed book was outstanding. I am currently doing some famiy ancestory work and the background of this procative historical book provided so much insight into connecting the past with our current struggles to reconcile this part of our history and why it still matters in the need for holistic total reconciliation today. The authors did a VERY detailed job of this "peculiar institution." ...more
Jennifer Dines
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What lengths will people go to make money and to make more and more money? This book answers this question while tracing vividly the economy of slavery - people as products. American slavery was a capitalist enterprise, and negrophobia made it easy to keep the wealth coming in. This book will likely become required reading - it's fascinating and makes one crave more history. ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing, extensive and well-documented history by Ned and Constance Sublette about the institution of slavery in the U.S., the fundamental connections between slavery and the infant U.S. economy, and the industry of slave breeding that grew exponentially with the official halt of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. A must read.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was an atrociously bad book, and the audiobook reader did a terrible job.

From the first chapter I got the strong impression that these authors had some sort of heavy axe to grind, and this was going to be horribly biased, with some sort of general political ideology influencing their view of history. I laughed out loud when, at one point, they tried to suggest that (in some minor point) they weren't guilty of "presentism", when the entire book is one big exercise in presentism. The premise
Liz Lem
Aug 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The human toll due to U.S. Slavery System was devastating. This system focused on the financial gain and economic output of an enslaved person. This means that “the owner” had no regard for the enslaved person. One line was “If you were white, upon birth your name would go into a Bible. If you were black, upon birth your name would go onto a balance sheet.
This is a very long book and yet an excellent piece of scholarship. Here are 3 things that I learned:
1. Don’t meet your heroes. I spent sever
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
The history that most often appears in the high school text does serious damage to the truth of the founding of the country. How often we think we know events and people but soon learn that the real story is much more complicated or even that the original story is a lie. This is the experience I had over and over again as I read this outstanding book. It was well written, thoroughly researched and riveting in providing a new portrait of events that I thought I knew. It's a page-turner. The docum ...more
Daniel Kleven
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Until reading this book the phrase "slavery in America" had little concrete detail for me. I knew it was bad and had some exposure to its brutality, but I really had no idea how extensive the system was. This book is so many things: at the core, it is a history of the slave-breeding history, but it is more than that. It is a comprehensive history of America's politics, economy, and international relations. It thoroughly documents various presidents, vice-presidents, senators, and other leaders. ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the hardest books I’ve ever powered through emotionally and mentally, but in the most important way. I consider myself to be educated and well-read on many of the subjects this book touches on, but I was honestly shocked at the excruciating detail revealed that went into the political, socioeconomic and trade systems that kept slavery entrenched in our society for centuries – especially regarding many of the founding fathers’ (some of whom are wrongfully highly regarded even today ...more
Sep 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend adding this book to your reading lists and libraries. This is the best book on the history of US slavery I have ever read. Furthermore it shows how the history, politics, westward expansion, and the economy of this country is intertwined with African slavery and indigenous genocide. Everything we are proud of in this country was capitalized and built at the expense of the blood, sweat, and tears of our forebears. The people, regardless of their treatment, chose to stay here to ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book. The author's arguments present a very strong case for why the US ended up in a civil war. It's well documented, jumps around a little bit much, and at times can be repetitive. But the authors' case for the slave economy as the impetus of so much US antebellum history is strong. One of the most intriguing arguments regards the opposing desires of South Carolina and Virginia- the first being a slave-needing state, the latter a slave-selling state. The book does a superb ...more
Barbara Finazzo
Not As Expected

This was obviously well researched and edited, but not what I was expecting. Reads too much like a textbook to be used for study purposes, not pleasure reading. Gave up around page 500 after a lot of previous skimming. Sorry I made this purchase. It was a total waste of time and money. Yes, I did get the sample first, but the sample section didn't read like the rest of the book.
David Rappoport
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A particularly brutal history of slavery in America. More comprehensive than the subtitle suggests with attention paid to politics, economics, and culture as well as visceral human suffering. One of those rare books that will assault you with truths you didn't know and irrevocably alter your viewpoint. ...more
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Clearly a work of passion. A mixed blessing. I have real objections to Sugar plantations being called as "death camps". The tone and agenda takes away from the scholarship.
Ending the international slave trade might have been done to make money for the protectionist slave breeders - But the idea of many motives gets lost in the passion.
To be taken with a grain of salt.
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An eye opening look at the domestic slave breeding and trading industry. I knew a lot about Reconstuction, Jim Crow and the relentless efforts of Virginians in the 1600s to define white over black, but much of this was new to me. As the Sublettes say in the coda, every time they thought they had a handle on how bad slavery was, it got worse.
Bull Durham
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
in a word, the American Horror Story that no one wants to read: “No matter how bad we thought slavery was, it was even worse. There’s no end to it … The history of the slave-breeding industry demonstrates how far the unrestrained pursuit of profit can go.”
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very good source for history of slave-breeding industry in Antebellum America. Ties some of the country's earliest financial institutions and people of wealth to breeding enslaved human beings like cattle. The deeper you dig into American racial slavery the worse it looks. ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Prone to digression and distraction and not always elegantly written or structured, but a remarkable accomplishment of research and synthesis of historical sources--and a powerful provocation about the extent to which American chattel slavery was always inextricable from American capitalism.
Meredith Huff
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Engaging read, wide-ranging and crammed full of information. It is very well-written and reads quickly. However, it is not an academic history, and the authors' personal biases occasionally seep in (e.g. typical Anglosphere soft-pedaling of British empire). ...more
Tonstant Weader
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The American Slave Coast by Ned and Constance Sublette is a massive labor of love and scholarship that focuses on our peculiar institution, American chattel slavery. Reading this book, the foundation of so many of our current problems are revealed as having been laid hundreds of years ago.

The American Slave Coast focuses on the full economic implications of the slave trade and slave breeding and what it really meant to create an economy where children are a return on investment, where people are
Jeffrey Berger
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely worth reading. Tells a lot of the story I hadn't seen before. I did think it could benefit from a good editor though. There might be more than one book between these covers. ...more
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Ned Sublette is a critically acclaimed writer, historian, musician, and photographer. Born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico, he lives in New York City with his wife, writer Constance Ash. He was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 20052006, and was previously a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. In 20042005 he was a ...more

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“It is in no small part to Henry’s resistance that the Constitution owes the Second Amendment in particular—the one that promises “the right to keep and bear arms” in order to have “a wellregulated militia”—and it too was, in part, about slavery, because in the South, the militia was understood to be identical with the slave patrols that were constantly on guard.” 4 likes
“That the War of Independence resulted in the strengthening, not the termination, of slavery was not an unexpected outcome for Southerners: protecting slavery had been the point of the war for them. It was the principal Southern political goal at every moment until slavery was destroyed.” 3 likes
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