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Cover for The Making of New World Slavery

The Making of New World Slavery

From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (Verso World History Series)

Robin Blackburn


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The Making of New World Slavery argues that independent commerce, geared to burgeoning consumer markets, was the driving force behind the rise of plantation slavery. The baroque state sought—successfully—to feed upon this commerce and—with markedly less success—to regulate slavery and racial relations. To illustrate this thesis, Blackburn examines the deployment of slaves in the colonial possessions of the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch, the English and the French. Plantation slavery is shown to have emerged from the impulses of civil society, not from the strategies of individual states.

Robin Blackburn argues that the organization of slave plantations placed the West on a destructive path to modernity and that greatly preferable alternatives were both proposed and rejected. Finally, he shows that the surge of Atlantic trade, predicated on the murderous toil of the plantations, made a decisive contribution to both the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the West.

Praise For The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (Verso World History Series)

“Blackburn’s book has finally drawn the veil which concealed or made mysterious the history and development of modem society.”—Darcus Howe, Guardian

“A magnificent work of contemporary scholarship.”—Eric Foner, The Nation

“Sombre, dark and masterly.”—Linda Colley, Independent on Sunday

“An exhaustive, powerfully written and compelling book.”—Anthony Pagden, Times Literary Supplement

“Extremely well-researched and readable ... . Highly recommended.”—Raymond J. Palin, Library Journal

Verso, 9781844676316, 608pp.

Publication Date: August 2, 2010

About the Author

Robin Blackburn teaches at the New School in New York and the University of Essex in the UK. He is the author of many books, including The Making of New World Slavery, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, Age Shock, Banking on Death, and The American Crucible.