Review of Herbert S. Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. CCXI, 211. by Cameron M. Cheung
May 19, 2012
In The Atlantic Slave Trade Herbert Klein attempts to go into great detail of the inner workings of the slave trade: how it came to be, the parties involved, as well as the social and cultural impacts it had on the society. When thinking of the slave trade previous to this class, I would think to myself how low we as a humanity once became, and how many of African Americans were exploited to this awful set of events. After reading the book, those same thoughts still remained, however, due to Klein my understanding of the knowledge gave me greater insight into how complex the slave trade really was. How Portugal was one of the leaders in the slave trade, how countries turned against each other, and how much of the world was involved in this horrific set of events were all news to me while reading.
Because of this complexity, no matter how clear the author was, the multitudes of information seemed to overwhelm me through my reading. Herbert Klein organized the book in a way that made all the information very precise, however, with all the numerical data I had a hard time keeping track. "The Chesapeake became the primary tobacco producer for the world, exporting 38 million pounds by 1700 ... holding some 145,000 slaves by 1750 ... absorbed 40,000 slaves by midcentury. By 1790 there were an impressive 698,000 slaves..." (44). This was all in the matter of a couple of sentences, for myself I could never retain the information that was provided in the first sentence. This quote does however go into precise figures, and is actually well laid out as a whole. Without having a deep prior knowledge though, it is very difficult to follow the what's all going on. If someone was to read this with prior knowledge of the subject, I'm sure they could weed out a lot of the information and take away more from the book....
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