10 books like To Be a Slave in Brazil

By Katia M. de Queiros Mattoso,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like To Be a Slave in Brazil. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Transformations in Slavery

By Paul E. Lovejoy,

Book cover of Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa

In this classic history, Paul Lovejoy examines how indigenous African slavery developed from the fifteenth to the early twentieth centuries within an international context, leading to the Atlantic trade conducted by Europeans and Americans. He describes the processes of enslavement and the marketing of slaves and assesses slavery's role in African and world history.

Transformations in Slavery

By Paul E. Lovejoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This history of African slavery from the fifteenth to the early twentieth centuries examines how indigenous African slavery developed within an international context. Paul E. Lovejoy discusses the medieval Islamic slave trade and the Atlantic trade as well as the enslavement process and the marketing of slaves. He considers the impact of European abolition and assesses slavery's role in African history. The book corrects the accepted interpretation that African slavery was mild and resulted in the slaves' assimilation. Instead, slaves were used extensively in production, although the exploitation methods and the relationships to world markets differed from those in the…


Elmina, 'The Little Europe'

By Joseph K. Adjaye,

Book cover of Elmina, 'The Little Europe': European Impact and Cultural Resilience

This book is a brief introduction to the history of Elmina, its castle, the people, and their traditions. It outlines the town’s 500-year relations with Europeans, highlighting the transformations that have developed out of these interactions. Written by one of the top historians of Ghana and a leading scholar of the African diaspora, the book is based on original archival information and oral sources. It is richly informed by the writer’s own personal knowledge as a citizen of Elmina.

Elmina, 'The Little Europe'

By Joseph K. Adjaye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Elmina, 'The Little Europe' as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a brief introduction to the history of Elmina, its castle, the people, and their traditions. It outlines the town’s 500-year relations with Europeans, highlighting the transformations that have developed out of these interactions. Written by one of the top historians of Ghana and a leading scholar of the African diaspora, the book is based on original archival information and orally-derived sources. It is also richly informed by the writer’s own personal knowledge as a Nyampa Safohen and citizen of Elmina. Despite the tremendous changes engendered by the European contact, Elmina’s historical development demonstrates an amazing degree of cultural…


Saltwater Slavery

By Stephanie E. Smallwood,

Book cover of Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora

Relying primarily on Royal African Company records, Smallwood reconstructs the forced migration and enslavement of approximately 300,000 African men, women, and children who were transported in English ships from the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) to the Americas between 1675 and 1725. She traces their dehumanizing journey from captivity in European forts on the West African coast through commodification at sea to sale in slave markets in the Caribbean and North America.

Through careful analysis of quantitative data, Smallwood tracks the processes of commodification that underwrote the transatlantic slave trade while simultaneously foregrounding the human experience of captivity and migration. This book offers a model example of innovative historical writing.

Saltwater Slavery

By Stephanie E. Smallwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This bold, innovative book promises to radically alter our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and the depths of its horrors. Stephanie E. Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market.

Smallwood's story is animated by deep research and gives us a startlingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. Ultimately, Saltwater Slavery details how African people were transformed into Atlantic commodities in the process. She begins her narrative on the shores of seventeenth-century Africa, tracing how…


Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807

By Emma Christopher,

Book cover of Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807

Despite the vast literature on the transatlantic slave trade, the role of sailors aboard slave ships has remained unexplored. This book fills that gap by examining every aspect of their working lives, from their reasons for signing on a slaving vessel to their experiences in the Caribbean and the American South after their human cargoes had been sold. It explores how they interacted with men and women of African origin at their ports of call, from the Africans they traded with, to the slaves and ex-slaves they mingled within the port cities of the Americas. Most importantly, it questions their interactions with the captive Africans they were transporting during the dread middle passage, arguing that their work encompassed the commoditisation of these people ready for sale.

Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807

By Emma Christopher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite the vast literature on the transatlantic slave trade, the role of sailors aboard slave ships has remained unexplored. This book fills that gap by examining every aspect of their working lives, from their reasons for signing on a slaving vessel, to their experiences in the Caribbean and the American South after their human cargoes had been sold. It explores how they interacted with men and women of African origin at their ports of call, from the Africans they traded with, to the free black seamen who were their crewmates, to the slaves and ex-slaves they mingled with in the…


Slave Stealers

By Timothy Ballard,

Book cover of Slave Stealers: True Accounts of Slave Rescues: Then and Now

This book weaves together two strikingly different stories about slavery that are separated by centuries and hundreds of miles. Ballard's powerful and riveting book not only demonstrates how exploitation in the Americas transcends time and space, it also offers evidence of good deeds by everyday people to combat such lingering evil.

Slave Stealers

By Timothy Ballard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1800s American South, Harriet Jacobs is enslaved and tormented by a cruel master. He relentlessly attempts to force her into a sexual union, and, when rebuffed, he separates her from her children and spends a lifetime trying to coerce her and then recapture her when she escapes to freedom. Jacobs outwits her tormentor and eventually reunites with her children, works in the cause of abolition and reform, and helps newly freed slaves with education and aftercare.

In 2012, Timothy Ballard encounters a grieving father in Haiti whose three-year-old son has been kidnapped and sold into slavery, along with…


Illusions of Emancipation

By Joseph P. Reidy,

Book cover of Illusions of Emancipation: The Pursuit of Freedom and Equality in the Twilight of Slavery

In the best scholarly tradition, Joseph P. Reidy manages to synthesize a half-century of groundbreaking scholarship on emancipation during the Civil War era while also anchoring his work in deep archival research and forwarding a unique and original argument. Utilizing the historian’s equivalent of a theory of relativity, Reidy contends that time and place become malleable during moments of upheaval and trauma—such as war and emancipation. Although historians generally adhere fairly strictly to chronology, I find this to be a bold and innovative idea, one that has implications far beyond the study of the U.S. Civil War and emancipation. Time does indeed seem to “stand still” or to move at “warp speed” during a crisis.

Illusions of Emancipation

By Joseph P. Reidy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As students of the Civil War have long known, emancipation was not merely a product of Lincoln's proclamation or of Confederate defeat in April 1865. It was a process that required more than legal or military action. With enslaved people fully engaged as actors, emancipation necessitated a fundamental reordering of a way of life whose implications stretched well beyond the former slave states. Slavery did not die quietly or quickly, nor did freedom fulfill every dream of the enslaved or their allies. The process unfolded unevenly.

In this sweeping reappraisal of slavery's end during the Civil War era, Joseph P.…


Stolen Childhood

By Wilma King,

Book cover of Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America

As a historical archaeologist, I find this book especially compelling. Stolen Childhood does a fine job of blending insights from a variety of primary-source narratives and recently uncovered archaeological artifacts; but these insights transcend the specific research questions regarding the conditions of daily life for slave youth in nineteenth-century America and indirectly make an intriguing case for why current archaeologists should pay as much attention to issues of childhood, parenting, and aging as they do to ethnicity, class, and gender.

Stolen Childhood

By Wilma King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most important books published on slave society, Stolen Childhood focuses on the millions of children and youth enslaved in 19th-century America. This enlarged and revised edition reflects the abundance of new scholarship on slavery that has emerged in the 15 years since the first edition. While the structure of the book remains the same, Wilma King has expanded its scope to include the international dimension with a new chapter on the transatlantic trade in African children, and the book's geographic boundaries now embrace slave-born children in the North. She includes data about children owned by Native Americans…


Freedom National

By James Oakes,

Book cover of Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865

This epic study traces the destruction of slavery throughout the United States during the Civil War. James Oakes argues, provocatively, that the Civil War did not “become” a war against slavery, as most scholars maintain. Instead, Abraham Lincoln and other Republicans were committed to a war against slavery right from the start. Oakes roots Union emancipation policy in the prewar struggles over slavery, as that institution became an all-consuming issue in national politics. Once hostilities commenced, and as enslaved persons responded by seeking shelter behind Union military lines, Republicans were ready to put their emancipationist views into practice. I may not necessarily agree with Oakes’s argument, but his book is a monumental achievement and essential reading on the topic.

Freedom National

By James Oakes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freedom National is a groundbreaking history of emancipation that joins the political initiatives of Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress with the courageous actions of Union soldiers and runaway slaves in the South. It shatters the widespread conviction that the Civil War was first and foremost a war to restore the Union and only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. These two aims-"Liberty and Union, one and inseparable"-were intertwined in Republican policy from the very start of the war.

By summer 1861 the federal government invoked military authority to begin freeing slaves, immediately and…


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…


The Fiery Trial

By Eric Foner,

Book cover of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

Eric Foner, the dean of US historians, has written many superb books. None surpasses The Fiery Trial. It’s been a pleasure to share projects and platforms with him. We both recognize how sincerely Lincoln believed slavery was a terrible wrong, but protecting it was a constitutional duty. The Civil War changed all that. His commitment to emancipation never wavered once he had made it a weapon of war. His racial prejudices, common among white people, melted in wartime. As black troops fought for the Union, he came to recognize their claims of citizenship. Foner’s definitive study puts Lincoln at the heart of the interplay of race, slavery, and politics, and is a compelling riposte to those who denigrate his role in black freedom.

The Fiery Trial

By Eric Foner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth.


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