A world transformed Slavery in the Americas and the origins of global power

James Walvin

Book - 2022

"A World Transformed explores how slavery thrived at the heart of the entire Western world for more than three centuries. Arguing that slavery can be fully understood only by stepping back from traditional national histories, this book collects the scattered accounts of the latest modern scholarship into a comprehensive history of slavery and its shaping of the world we know. Celebrated historian James Walvin tells a global story that covers everything from the capitalist economy, labor, an...d the environment, to social culture and ideas of family, beauty, and taste. This book underscores just how thoroughly slavery is responsible for the making of the modern world. The enforced transportation and labor of millions of Africans became a massive social and economic force, catalyzing the rapid development of multiple new and enormous trading systems with profound global consequences. The labor and products of enslaved people changed the consumption habits of millions--in India and Asia, Europe and Africa, in colonized and Indigenous American societies. Across time, slavery shaped many of the dominant features of Western taste: items and habits or rare and costly luxuries, some of which might seem, at first glance, utterly removed from the horrific reality of slavery. A World Transformed traces the global impacts of slavery over centuries, far beyond legal or historical endpoints, confirming that the world created by slave labor lives on today"--

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 973.00496/Walvin Checked In
Oakland, California : University of California Press [2022]
Item Description
"First published in Great Britain in 2022 by Robinson"--Title page verso
Physical Description
xxvi, 374 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 359-366) and index
Main Author
James Walvin (author)
  • Part one: The trade
  • The scattering of people
  • Spanish origins
  • Spain and the other slavery
  • Slavery,, sugar and power
  • Part two: People and cargoes
  • Bound for Africa: cargoes
  • The dead
  • Part three: Internal trades
  • Upheavals
  • Brazil's internal slave trade
  • The domestic US slave trade
  • Part four: Managing slavery
  • A world of paper: accounting for slavery
  • Managing slavery
  • Brute force
  • Working
  • Part five: Demanding freedom
  • Finding a voice
  • Demanding freedom
  • Part six: A world transformed
  • Beauty and the beast
  • A world transformed
  • Slavery matters.
Review by Choice Review

A World Transformed focuses on the origins of enslavement in the Americas and its ensuing global power. The impact of and human misery caused by almost four centuries of African bondage literally changed the world. Walvin (emer., Univ. of York, UK), a noted British historian, makes a strong claim that only when slavery is comprehended as a vast web of interwoven fragmented national entities can there be full appreciation of how the past impinges on the present. What he reveals is not particularly novel, but it adds weight to the fact that the capitalist economy essentially grew from the labor of millions of enslaved Africans--exploited and dehumanized souls being culturally torn asunder across the Americas (he does not consider the Caribbean region) for the sake of the growing plantation economies. In other words, the modern world cannot escape the legacy of the past, particularly when considering how nations such as Brazil owe their population inheritance largely to involuntary African migration. In short, this book is worth reading if only to link the past to the present. Walvin is skilled at making complex history accessible to a broad readership without diminishing its intellectual force. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals. --Mark Christian, Lehman College, CUNY

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Historian Walvin (Freedom: The Overthrow of the Slave Empires) asserts in this meticulous and eye-opening study that slavery was not just "fundamental to the way the West emerged," but also "created tentacles of economic activity" that affected far-flung regions not usually associated with the institution. Expertly sifting through archival records, Walvin documents how people, commodities, and ideas crossed oceans and continents, affecting societies as distant from the American South as India and Japan. He examines the emergence of the slave trade, its transatlantic and domestic variants, the methods by which slaveholders attempted to squeeze as much labor as possible from their captive workforce, and the efforts by enslaved people to assert their humanity and gain partial or total freedom. Walvin is particularly eloquent and insightful in describing how slavery underwrote both Western prosperity and the material symbols thereof, facilitating trade in polished mahogany furniture, Chinese porcelain, and other luxury goods. He also sheds valuable light on the links between slavery and modern-day environmental degradation and racial conflict. This richly detailed yet approachable history makes clear just how far and wide the grip of slavery reached. (May)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

The enslavement and transportation of Africans formed the backbone of the Atlantic economy in the 16th through 19th centuries and facilitated the expansion of global trade. Historian Walvin's (Freedom: The Overthrow of the Slave Empires) beautifully written and compassionate narrative artfully synthesizes modern scholarship on slavery. Walvin successfully decenters the nation-state to show the interconnectedness of the slave trade and the Atlantic economies and to demonstrate slavery's enormous human and environmental effects. The slave trade radically transformed every place it touched, he argues: Europeans gained access to rich fabrics from Asia, while African societies were impacted by imported weapons, iron, and other goods. Walvin fully relates the horror and tragedy that awaited enslaved Africans as they crossed the sea in overcrowded and disease-ridden ships. Enslaved people were often transported between multiple ports and countries before being sold; then many of them endured long, torturous marches to reach the plantations or mines. Walvin masterfully conveys the tragedy and enormity of his subject without losing details or forgetting his subjects' humanity. VERDICT This general history of the slave trade provides a thorough and humane treatment of the subject that will appeal to non-specialists and specialists alike.--Chad E. Statler

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.