100 books like The Plantation Mistress

By Catherine Clinton,

Here are 100 books that The Plantation Mistress fans have personally recommended if you like The Plantation Mistress. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Life on a Plantation

Lori Benton Author Of Mountain Laurel

From my list on life in the Antebellum South.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lori Benton is an award-winning, multi-published author of historical novels set during 18th century North America. Her literary passion is bringing little-known historical events to life through the eyes of those who lived it, either set along the Appalachian frontier, where European and Native American cultures collided, or amidst the conflict-laden setting of the southern plantation. Her novel, Mountain Laurel, begins an epic family saga that immerses readers in 1790s North Carolina plantation life and the moral dilemmas created by the evils of slavery.

Lori's book list on life in the Antebellum South

Lori Benton Why did Lori love this book?

When I begin researching a new historical subject I usually turn first to children’s books for a quick, broad overview. For Southern USA plantation life, Kalman’s book, part of the Historic Communities series, is a perfect introduction to the subject of southern plantations, with splendidly detailed drawings of homes and outbuildings, a glossary of terms, and many photographs from the latter decades before emancipation. Its focus is split between the planters’ lives and the lives of those they enslaved, introducing readers to every facet of this setting and the challenges faced by those who lived there. A great springboard into the subject for homeschooling.

By Bobbie Kalman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life on a Plantation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Describes the plantations that existed in the southern United States into the nineteenth century, examining what life was like for the owners of these large farming communities, their children, and the slaves.


Book cover of Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery

Lori Benton Author Of Mountain Laurel

From my list on life in the Antebellum South.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lori Benton is an award-winning, multi-published author of historical novels set during 18th century North America. Her literary passion is bringing little-known historical events to life through the eyes of those who lived it, either set along the Appalachian frontier, where European and Native American cultures collided, or amidst the conflict-laden setting of the southern plantation. Her novel, Mountain Laurel, begins an epic family saga that immerses readers in 1790s North Carolina plantation life and the moral dilemmas created by the evils of slavery.

Lori's book list on life in the Antebellum South

Lori Benton Why did Lori love this book?

Though it was wealthy white planters who built plantations, the enslaved people who worked them imbued these landscapes with their own meanings. With over 200 photographs and drawings of Antebellum plantations, Vlach leads readers on a tour of plantation outbuildings, providing examples of how slaves used these spaces despite—and in defiance of—their masters’ intentions. Testimonies of former slaves (drawn from the Federal Writers’ Project collection) give the reader a sense of what it was like to live and work in these settings.

By John Michael Vlach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Back of the Big House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Behind the ""Big Houses"" of the antebellum South existed a different world, socially and architecturally, where slaves lived and worked. John Michael Vlach explores the structures and spaces that formed the slaves' environment. Through photographs and the words of former slaves, he portrays the plantation landscape from the slaves' own point of view. The plantation landscape was chiefly the creation of slaveholders, but Vlach argues convincingly that slaves imbued this landscape with their own meanings. Their subtle acts of appropriation constituted one of the more effective strategies of slave resistance and one that provided a locus for the formation of…


Book cover of Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South

Lori Benton Author Of Mountain Laurel

From my list on life in the Antebellum South.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lori Benton is an award-winning, multi-published author of historical novels set during 18th century North America. Her literary passion is bringing little-known historical events to life through the eyes of those who lived it, either set along the Appalachian frontier, where European and Native American cultures collided, or amidst the conflict-laden setting of the southern plantation. Her novel, Mountain Laurel, begins an epic family saga that immerses readers in 1790s North Carolina plantation life and the moral dilemmas created by the evils of slavery.

Lori's book list on life in the Antebellum South

Lori Benton Why did Lori love this book?

This extensive and prize-winning narrative of Southern women’s daily existence in the antebellum era covers all the bases on this subject. With the following chapter titles, how could it not? Southern Women, Southern Households; The View from the Big House; Between Big House and Slave Community; Gender Conventions; Women Who Opposed Slavery; And Women Who Did Not. A must-read for anyone wishing to delve into the subject of women’s lives in the antebellum south.

By Elizabeth Fox-Genovese,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Within the Plantation Household as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Documenting the difficult class relations between women slaveholders and slave women, this study shows how class and race as well as gender shaped women's experiences and determined their identities. Drawing upon massive research in diaries, letters, memoirs, and oral histories, the author argues that the lives of antebellum southern women, enslaved and free, differed fundamentally from those of northern women and that it is not possible to understand antebellum southern women by applying models derived from New England sources. |A powerful historical study in which the author's use of letters, memoirs, oral histories, as well as extensive archival sources bring…


Book cover of Women's Life and Work in the Southern Colonies

Ida Flowers Author Of Jessie's Passion

From my list on everyday life in the Southern colonies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I started reading the Little House series at the age of ten, I’ve been in love with women’s history. In college I had the opportunity to write a paper on the topic of my choice and I chose women of the American colonial period. I found that while our daily life is now very different, our feelings as women are much the same. The more primary sources I discovered, the more I could feel the fears, sorrows, and joys of the determined women who came before us, unwittingly creating records of their experiences in their correspondence and journals as they built homes and businesses from the raw, wild land.

Ida's book list on everyday life in the Southern colonies

Ida Flowers Why did Ida love this book?

Julia Cherry Spruill is herself a fascinating character, one who worked in her husband’s shadow most of her life, an academic wife, as it were, creating research methods for the decade-long project of examining women’s experiences in the New World. The book, after being published, was largely ignored for thirty years, until it was published in paperback at a time when women’s history was attaining status as an academic field. Women’s Life and Work is overflowing with details concerning women’s activities, clothing, food and drink, childbearing, and death, with personal anecdotes of their feelings about it all. 

By Julia Cherry Spruill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Women's Life and Work in the Southern Colonies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Out of a wealth of documentation, and often from the words of the people themselves, Spruill's account brings these women's lives out of the shadows-opening a usable past that was not there before.

In the words of Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., it is "an important contribution to social history to which students will constantly turn."

Book cover of Indians in the Family: Adoption and the Politics of Antebellum Expansion

Mark R. Cheathem Author Of Andrew Jackson, Southerner

From my list on explaining Andrew Jackson.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in Andrew Jackson as an undergraduate student who worked at his Nashville plantation, The Hermitage. Nearly thirty years later, I am still fascinated by Old Hickory. We wouldn’t be friends, and I wouldn’t vote for him, but I consider him essential to understanding the United States’ development between his ascension as a national hero during the War of 1812 and his death in 1845. That we still argue about Jackson’s role as a symbol both of patriotism and of genocide speaks to his enduring significance to the national conversation about what the United States has represented and continues to represent.  

Mark's book list on explaining Andrew Jackson

Mark R. Cheathem Why did Mark love this book?

When I give talks about Jackson, audience members often bring up his “adoption” of Lyncoya, a Creek Indian boy, as an argument against his racist and violent treatment of Native Americans. Peterson delves into that episode, and similar events in the lives of Jackson and men like him, to explain what elite white “adoption” of Native children actually meant and how it reflected larger national themes of acquisition and subjugation. 

By Dawn Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indians in the Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During his invasion of Creek Indian territory in 1813, future U.S. president Andrew Jackson discovered a Creek infant orphaned by his troops. Moved by an "unusual sympathy," Jackson sent the child to be adopted into his Tennessee plantation household. Through the stories of nearly a dozen white adopters, adopted Indian children, and their Native parents, Dawn Peterson opens a window onto the forgotten history of adoption in early nineteenth-century America. Indians in the Family shows the important role that adoption played in efforts to subdue Native peoples in the name of nation-building.

As the United States aggressively expanded into Indian…


Book cover of The Trader, The Owner, The Slave: Parallel Lives in the Age of Slavery

Sathnam Sanghera Author Of Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain

From my list on the British Empire's impact on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was in my 40s before I began exploring the topic of the British Empire. It came after I realised it explained so much about me (my Sikh identity, the emigration of my parents, my education) and so much about my country (its politics, psychology, wealth…) and yet I knew very little. It turned out that millions of people feel the same way… and I hope I provide an accessible introduction and summary of the massive topic. 

Sathnam's book list on the British Empire's impact on the world

Sathnam Sanghera Why did Sathnam love this book?

Coming in at just over 250 pages of generously spaced text, this is not the longest book on the subject. Nor is it the most famous.

But in efficiently telling the stories of three men  –  John Newton, the captain of a slave ship, who later became a preacher, Thomas Thistlewood, a slave owner who made a small fortune from a plantation in Jamaica, and the black slave Olaudah Equiano.

Walvin deftly reveals how slavery, like so many aspects of the empire, has been erased from the British consciousness and conscience.

By James Walvin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There has been nothing like Atlantic slavery. Its scope and the ways in which it has shaped the modern world are so far-reaching as to make it ungraspable. By examining the lives of three individuals caught up in the enterprise of human enslavement. James Walvin offers a new and an original interpretation of the barbaric world of slavery and of the historic end to the slave trade in April 1807.

John Newton (1725-1807), author of 'Amazing Grace', was a slave captain who marshalled his human cargoes with a brutality that he looked back on with shame and contrition. Thomas Thistlewood's…


Book cover of The Price of Emancipation: Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery

Brooke Newman Author Of A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

From my list on Britain and Atlantic slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a historian of early modern Britain and the British Atlantic world who realized years ago that Britain, like the United States, hadn't yet fully acknowledged or come to terms with its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade and African slavery and its global afterlives. Although awareness of Britain's role in the African slave trade and Atlantic slavery has begun to feature more prominently in national consciousness, particularly due to the work of The Movement for Black Lives and calls for an overdue reckoning with the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and racial injustice, much work remains to be done. Using the archival record--as flawed as it may be--to piece together Britain's imperial past, confront calculated historical silences, and track the full extent of British participation in the enslavement of millions of Africans will help to ensure that the histories and voices of enslaved people and their descendants aren't distorted or forgotten by current and future generations.

Brooke's book list on Britain and Atlantic slavery

Brooke Newman Why did Brooke love this book?

Based on painstaking analysis of the surviving records of the Commissioners of Slave Compensation, this book provides a comprehensive look at British slave-ownership in 1833, when the British government abolished colonial slavery and paid £20 million to slave-owners as compensation for their loss of human property. After emancipation the enslaved received nothing. Moreover, they were forced to remain on their plantations and continue to labor for their former masters under the apprenticeship system, which was not abolished until 1838. Draper concludes that slave-owning was widespread in metropolitan Britain and that many individuals, businesses, and institutions derived wealth from African slavery.

This book demonstrates that there is indeed a strong case for reparations and it is best read as a companion piece to University College London’s Legacies of British Slavery project, an extensive database tracing the impact of slave-ownership on the development of modern Britain.

By Nicholas Draper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When colonial slavery was abolished in 1833 the British government paid GBP20 million to slave-owners as compensation: the enslaved received nothing. Drawing on the records of the Commissioners of Slave Compensation, which represent a complete census of slave-ownership, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of the extent and importance of absentee slave-ownership and its impact on British society. Moving away from the historiographical tradition of isolated case studies, it reveals the extent of slave-ownership among metropolitan elites, and identifies concentrations of both rentier and mercantile slave-holders, tracing their influence in local and national politics, in business and in institutions such…


Book cover of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

Shannan Martin Author Of Start with Hello: (And Other Simple Ways to Live as Neighbors)

From my list on cultivating empathy and connection in a divided world.

Why am I passionate about this?

A dozen years ago, my family moved from a homogeneous community where everyone looked, lived, and believed as we did to a vibrant neighborhood filled with difference and complexity. This shifted something deep inside me and ultimately changed the way I see the world and myself within it. It set me on a path toward understanding how authentic, ordinary community holds the power to transform our world. To live as neighbors is to draw near to each other. I have written three books on this central theme and plan to spend the rest of my life reaching for empathy as our best tool in reclaiming the goodness of humanity.  

Shannan's book list on cultivating empathy and connection in a divided world

Shannan Martin Why did Shannan love this book?

As someone raised in small-town USA, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was taught a white-washed, largely inaccurate American history. It was up to me to re-educate myself.

As someone who can get bogged down by long lists of dates and details, How the Word is Passed gave me a modern lens for understanding the history around slavery. I was gripped by Smith’s lyrical, humane approach.

This is the sort of book that makes the world better.   

By Clint Smith,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked How the Word Is Passed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NON-FICTION

'A beautifully readable reminder of how much of our urgent, collective history resounds in places all around us that have been hidden in plain sight.' Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks - those that are honest about the past and those that are not - which offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in…


Book cover of Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholders and the Creation of Britain's Atlantic Empire

Trevor Burnard Author Of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution

From my list on Jamaica during the period of slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

Trevor Burnard is Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and author of four books and many articles on eighteenth-century Jamaica. He has recently reviewed 34 books just published on Jamaica in “`Wi Lickle but Wi Tallawah’: Writing Jamaica into the Atlantic World, 1655-1834 Reviews in American History 49 (2021), 168-86.

Trevor's book list on Jamaica during the period of slavery

Trevor Burnard Why did Trevor love this book?

We tend to think of social relationships in societies like early eighteenth-century Jamaica in male terms – masters and enslaved men. Jamaica was a very masculine place with a distinct masculine culture based around sexual access to women and a vibrant economy. But white women were also there and tended to flourish – working with the slave system rather than against it. This book is testimony to gender history and to the diversity of experiences in colonial Jamaica.

By Christine Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jamaica Ladies is the first systematic study of the free and freed women of European, Euro-African, and African descent who perpetuated chattel slavery and reaped its profits in the British Empire. Their actions helped transform Jamaica into the wealthiest slaveholding colony in the Anglo-Atlantic world. Starting in the 1670s, a surprisingly large and diverse group of women helped secure English control of Jamaica and, crucially, aided its developing and expanding slave labor regime by acquiring enslaved men, women, and children to protect their own tenuous claims to status and independence.

Female colonists employed slaveholding as a means of advancing themselves…


Book cover of Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study

William Clare Roberts Author Of Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital

From my list on understanding how power works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a teacher, a student, and a reader by trade (that is, a university professor), and I spend most of my time trying to understand social and political power: why some people have it, and others don’t, how it circulates and changes (gradually or suddenly), why it sometimes oppresses us and sometimes liberates, how it can be created and destroyed. I mostly do this by reading and teaching the history of political theory, which I am lucky enough to do at McGill University, in conversation and cooperation with some wonderful colleagues.

William's book list on understanding how power works

William Clare Roberts Why did William love this book?

I am blown away by the scope, detail, and rigor of Patterson’s scholarship.

I think it is easy to imagine that slavery is a simple thing, treating a person like property and forcing them to work. But Patterson showed me that slavery has always been an entire system of meaning, ritual, and social dynamics.

I especially appreciate that Patterson demonstrates the ultimate perversity of the delusion that you could master other people.

By Orlando Patterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award, American Sociological Association
Co-Winner of the Ralph J. Bunche Award, American Political Science Association

In a work of prodigious scholarship and enormous breadth, which draws on the tribal, ancient, premodern, and modern worlds, Orlando Patterson discusses the internal dynamics of slavery in sixty-six societies over time. These include Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, China, Korea, the Islamic kingdoms, Africa, the Caribbean islands, and the American South.

Praise for the previous edition:

"Densely packed, closely argued, and highly controversial in its dissent from much of the scholarly conventional wisdom about the function and…


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