Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

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Vintage Books, 1976 - History - 823 pages
2 Reviews

This landmark history of slavery in the South--a winner of the Bancroft Prize--challenged conventional views of slaves by illuminating the many forms of resistance to dehumanization that developed in slave society.

Rather than emphasizing the cruelty and degradation of slavery, historian Eugene Genovese investigates the ways that slaves forced their owners to acknowledge their humanity through culture, music, and religion. Not merely passive victims, the slaves in this account actively engaged with the paternalism of slaveholding culture in ways that supported their self-respect and aspirations for freedom. Roll, Jordan, Roll covers a vast range of subjects, from slave weddings and funerals, to the language, food, clothing, and labor of slaves, and places particular emphasis on religion as both a major battleground for psychological control and a paradoxical source of spiritual strength. Displaying keen insight into the minds of both slaves and slaveholders, Roll, Jordan, Roll is a testament to the power of the human spirit under conditions of extreme oppression.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mdobe - LibraryThing

Genovese's is an account of slavery based upon a class-based system of dominance, reinforced by racism (p. 3). Dominance, he stresses, is not as complete as earlier historians thought. Slaves ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Carolfoasia - LibraryThing

I think the book could have been better organized. I felt like it started at the end talking about slaves leaving the plantations after the Civil War then going back to the history of paternalism ... Read full review


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About the author (1976)

Eugene D. Genovese is a retired professor of history. Among his books are Roll, Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made; The Slaveholders' Dilemma: southern Conservative Thought 1820 1860; and A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South. Fox-Genovese and Genovese co-authored Fruits of Merchant capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism, and The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview. In 2004 the Intercollegiate Studies Institute presented them jointly with its Gerhard Niemeyer Award for Distinguished Contributions to Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.

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