10 books like Dreams of Africa in Alabama

By Sylviane A. Diouf,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Dreams of Africa in Alabama. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Slavery by Another Name

By Douglas A. Blackmon,

Book cover of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

The wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in the U.S. is enormous! Whites have 10 times the wealth as Blacks. The disparity is not because Whites are smarter or have worked harder. This book does a masterful job of clearly explaining one of the reasons behind the wide wealth gap. 

Most people are aware of the fact that 246 years of slavery was a successful government policy that intentionally enriched Whites while simultaneously impoverishing Blacks. But most people are not aware that a new system with the same dual objectives, followed the abolition of slavery in 1865. This book tells the story of Black Codes, Vagrancy Laws, and convict leasing that occurred for 60 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment, emancipating Black enslaved people. These government supported policies replaced slavery as the new program to subsidize White wealth creation at the expense of millions of Blacks. 

Douglas Blackman…

Slavery by Another Name

By Douglas A. Blackmon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Slavery by Another Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Warmth of Other Suns

By Isabel Wilkerson,

Book cover of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Wilkerson embeds us with some of the millions of Black men and women who fled the Jim Crow South between 1915 and 1970, describing communities abandoned and hopes realized or disappointed. Robert Foster left his Louisiana town for Southern California, where he navigated new forms of racism to establish himself as a surgeon and prominent social figure. Ida Mae Gladney took her family from Mississippi to Chicago, where lodging, segregation, and “mind-numbing labor” scarcely improved on that of the South. But it was in Chicago that Ida Mae was first able to vote. Through the lives of people like these, Wilkerson paints a sweeping history of twentieth-century America that tells us as much about a country and an era as Tolstoy did in War and Peace.

The Warmth of Other Suns

By Isabel Wilkerson,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Warmth of Other Suns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Color of Money

By Mehrsa Baradaran,

Book cover of The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap

This is one of my all-time favorite books! It was given to me by my nephew Kareem, in 2018. I have read it cover to cover, twice. My handwritten notes are on over 50% of the pages. 

The research that Baradarian put into this book is unparalleled. The book is chockful of facts and data that I never knew about Black history. For example, her research uncovered the fact that the forty acres of land that were to go to the 4 million formerly enslaved Black people after the Civil War was to be sold, not given to Blacks at $1.25 per acre. 

This book is filled with an abundance of typically unknown data, as she admirably tells the history of Blacks in America, through the Black banking industry’s chronicles. 

In the spirit of full transparency, my love for this book preceded the 2019 interview that I did of Baradarian…

The Color of Money

By Mehrsa Baradaran,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Color of Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Read this book. It explains so much about the moment...Beautiful, heartbreaking work."
-Ta-Nehisi Coates

"A deep accounting of how America got to a point where a median white family has 13 times more wealth than the median black family."
-The Atlantic

"Extraordinary...Baradaran focuses on a part of the American story that's often ignored: the way African Americans were locked out of the financial engines that create wealth in America."
-Ezra Klein

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, the black community owned less than 1 percent of the total wealth in America. More than 150 years later, that number…


The Juneteenth Story

By Alliah L. Agostini,

Book cover of The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States

After interviewing me for my new book in May 2021, the editor of a suburban newspaper in Chicago asked me to write an Op Ed piece about the new federal holiday, Juneteenth. It is the day of recognition and celebration of the ending of slavery in the last confederate state of Texas in 1865. My Op Ed piece titled, “My Bittersweet Feelings About Juneteenth,” was written to inform and educate adult readers about June 19, 1865. That was the day Union Troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and began informing Black enslaved people that they were officially emancipated. 

The Juneteenth Story is a well-researched and beautifully written historical depiction of the same event. But the targeted audience of readers are children. It is the size of a large typical children’s coloring book filled with pretty colors and appealing graphic art. My 40-year-old daughter, Akilah, gave it to me as a Father’s…

The Juneteenth Story

By Alliah L. Agostini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Juneteenth Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Barracoon

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Book cover of Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

This book is a raw peek into America’s troubled past. It’s a series of interviews that Hurston conducts with a man who was on the last slave ship to make the transatlantic passage. It is a difficult read on two levels: subject matter and English. Hurston presents the words of a man named Cudjo Lewis as authentically as possible. What may seem to some today as parody, is translated to the page with accuracy. For me it communicated first-hand some of the past my main character has lived through. Books like this help to inform my protagonist’s current attitude toward the world (Alexander Smith in Blood For The Sun and All The Dead Men).

Barracoon

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Barracoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major literary event: a never-before-published work from the author of the American classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God which brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade-illegally smuggled from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, to interview ninety-five-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of…


Complicity

By Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, Jennifer Frank

Book cover of Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery

Three veteran journalists without a regional axe to grind but only a desire to find and communicate the historical facts present a compelling argument that slavery was a national, not merely a Southern, problem. Their findings are truly an inconvenient truth that anti-Southern historians must face if they sincerely want to be objective chroniclers of our nation’s history.

Complicity

By Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, Jennifer Frank

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Complicity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker,

Book cover of The Slave Ship: A Human History

Both incredibly fascinating and horrifying, this book found its start in the author’s desire to write about sailing ships. I’m interested in socio-political history and I’ve found that there’s nothing more disturbing or terrifying than looking deep into the world’s past. It’s a great way to be informed and to pepper fiction with interesting nonfiction details. (And to be horrified.) Our imaginations can not outpace what people have actually done. In the foreword, Reddiker describes researching the subject and finding information about the ships that carried human cargo for chattel slavery. There’s a personal anecdote as the author digs further into the records. He suffers an unexpected emotional impact as he began to understand what an immense human tragedy the entire affair was. Then he realizes that no one else has written about the subject from this perspective and his research becomes focused on revealing this history. It is stunning…

The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Slave Ship as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The slave ship was the instrument of history's greatest forced migration and a key to the origins and growth of global capitalism, yet much of its history remains unknown. Marcus Rediker uncovers the extraordinary human drama that played out on this world-changing vessel. Drawing on thirty years of maritime research, he demonstrates the truth of W.E.B DuBois's observation: the slave trade was 'the most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history'. The Slave Ship" focuses on the so-called 'golden age' of the slave trade, the period of 1700-1808, when more than six million people were transported out…

Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves

By Kirk Savage,

Book cover of Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America

Kirk Savage’s book was one of the first critical monographs focusing on the presence and problems of race representation in American monument culture. Written well before monument removals in the 21st century, Savage identified what would become one of the central issues of our time: how Americans have created and sustained racial injustice in the public square via monuments and memorials. This book elevated the study of monuments in American classrooms—and society. The recent controversy over whether to remove the Emancipation Monument by Thomas Ball from public squares in Boston and Washington, DC indicates that Americans have been wrestling with the problems of monuments for a very long time.

Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves

By Kirk Savage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A history of U.S. Civil War monuments that shows how they distort history and perpetuate white supremacy

The United States began as a slave society, holding millions of Africans and their descendants in bondage, and remained so until a civil war took the lives of a half million soldiers, some once slaves themselves. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves explores how the history of slavery and its violent end was told in public spaces-specifically in the sculptural monuments that came to dominate streets, parks, and town squares in nineteenth-century America. Looking at monuments built and unbuilt, Kirk Savage shows how the greatest…


Tropical Freedom

By Ikuko Asaka,

Book cover of Tropical Freedom: Climate, Settler Colonialism, and Black Exclusion in the Age of Emancipation

This is transnational scholarship at its best. Asaka tells the story of how the history of emancipation in Canada and the United States is intertwined into the history of efforts to exile freed people to tropical climates around the world where they could be used to create a monopoly over indigenous lands. This is a tale of hemispheric proportions, taking the reader from North America to the Caribbean and the East Coast of Africa, but of global importance – telling as it does the history of the racialization of freedom in the Age of Empire. Just as important, and told here in arresting fashion, are the ways in which black activists contested and remade those spaces.

Tropical Freedom

By Ikuko Asaka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tropical Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Tropical Freedom Ikuko Asaka engages in a hemispheric examination of the intersection of emancipation and settler colonialism in North America. Asaka shows how from the late eighteenth century through Reconstruction, emancipation efforts in the United States and present-day Canada were accompanied by attempts to relocate freed blacks to tropical regions, as black bodies were deemed to be more physiologically compatible with tropical climates. This logic conceived of freedom as a racially segregated condition based upon geography and climate. Regardless of whether freed people became tenant farmers in Sierra Leone or plantation laborers throughout the Caribbean, their relocation would provide…

Confederate Emancipation

By Bruce Levine,

Book cover of Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves During the Civil War

The Confederacy was consistent throughout most of the war that Black men could not be recruited to serve in the army as soldiers. This was a war to preserve slavery and white supremacy and Black enlisted men would have undermined the very justification for secession and the creation of a new nation. As the war entered its fourth year, however, more and more people realized that this policy was no longer tenable. Historian Bruce Levine offers a thorough analysis of the very public and bitterly divisive debate that took place throughout the Confederacy in 1864 over whether slaves could be recruited as soldiers. Confederates debated this subject in the capital of Richmond, in the army, and in countless newspapers. The question was clear: Should the Confederacy recruit Black men as a way to avoid defeat? That it took the Confederate government until mid-March 1865 to finally approve slave enlistment—much too…

Confederate Emancipation

By Bruce Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confederate Emancipation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In early 1864, as the Confederate Army of Tennessee licked its wounds after being routed at the Battle of Chattanooga, Major-General Patrick Cleburne (the "Stonewall of the West") proposed that "the most courageous of our slaves" be trained as soldiers and that "every slave in the South who shall remain true to the Confederacy in this war" be freed.
In Confederate Emancipation, Bruce Levine looks closely at such Confederate plans to arm and free slaves. He shows that within a year of Cleburne's proposal, which was initially rejected out of hand, Jefferson Davis, Judah P. Benjamin, and Robert E. Lee…

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