100 books like Voices of the Enslaved

By Sophie White,

Here are 100 books that Voices of the Enslaved fans have personally recommended if you like Voices of the Enslaved. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth-Century

Christian Pinnen Author Of Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands

From my list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of race and slavery in the lower Mississippi Valley because the region is a fulcrum of United States history. I was always fascinated by the significance of the Mississippi River for American expansion, society, and culture. Ultimately, this region of the country is so deeply influenced by people of African descent that must be included in all histories, and I wanted to share their stories in a particular place during the colonial period. Telling these stories in places where they have commonly been less well represented is very rewarding and it opens more ways to understand the histories of places like Natchez along the Mississippi River.

Christian's book list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley

Christian Pinnen Why did Christian love this book?

Gwendolyn Hall’s Africans in Colonial Louisiana is still a foundational text when it comes to studying African people in the colonial lower Mississippi Valley. Her deep knowledge of the archives and skill in bringing the stories of enslaved Africans to live make this a wonderfully informative book. She draws deep connections between the places that Africans left and their forced new homes in Louisiana, while placing a special emphasis on how that culture turned into an African creole culture in the lower Mississippi Valley.

By Gwendolyn Midlo Hall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although a number of important studies of American slavery have explored the formation of slave cultures in the English colonies, few books have undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the development of the distinctive African-Creole culture of colonial Louisiana. This culture, based upon a separate language community with its own folklore, musical, religious and historical traditions, was created by slaves brought directly from Africa to Louisiana before 1731. It still survives as the acknowledged cultural heritage of tens of thousands of people of all races in the southern part of the state. In this work, Gwendolyn Hall studies Louisiana's Creole slave…


Book cover of Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World

Christian Pinnen Author Of Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands

From my list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of race and slavery in the lower Mississippi Valley because the region is a fulcrum of United States history. I was always fascinated by the significance of the Mississippi River for American expansion, society, and culture. Ultimately, this region of the country is so deeply influenced by people of African descent that must be included in all histories, and I wanted to share their stories in a particular place during the colonial period. Telling these stories in places where they have commonly been less well represented is very rewarding and it opens more ways to understand the histories of places like Natchez along the Mississippi River.

Christian's book list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley

Christian Pinnen Why did Christian love this book?

Jessica Marie Johnson’s award-winning Wicked Flesh is a masterpiece of historical writing that takes an in-depth look at the stories of Black women in search for freedom. Connecting the lower Mississippi Valley to an Atlantic World dominated by slave trading, the intimate histories of Black women take center stage as Johnson chronicles the ways they sought to counter the power white men attempted to claim over their bodies.  

By Jessica Marie Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of freedom pivots on the choices black women made to retain control over their bodies and selves, their loved ones, and their futures.
The story of freedom and all of its ambiguities begins with intimate acts steeped in power. It is shaped by the peculiar oppressions faced by African women and women of African descent. And it pivots on the self-conscious choices black women made to retain control over their bodies and selves, their loved ones, and their futures. Slavery's rise in the Americas was institutional, carnal, and reproductive. The intimacy of bondage whet the appetites of slaveowners,…


Book cover of Natchez Country: Indians, Colonists, and the Landscapes of Race in French Louisiana

Christian Pinnen Author Of Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands

From my list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of race and slavery in the lower Mississippi Valley because the region is a fulcrum of United States history. I was always fascinated by the significance of the Mississippi River for American expansion, society, and culture. Ultimately, this region of the country is so deeply influenced by people of African descent that must be included in all histories, and I wanted to share their stories in a particular place during the colonial period. Telling these stories in places where they have commonly been less well represented is very rewarding and it opens more ways to understand the histories of places like Natchez along the Mississippi River.

Christian's book list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley

Christian Pinnen Why did Christian love this book?

George Milne writes the definitive history of the Natchez people and how their encounter with the French changed the power dynamics in the lower Mississippi Valley in the eighteenth century. Milne draws on research in French archives to show how French and Natchez built a fragile cultural understanding based on misinterpretation of social and cultural cues. This book is very good at elaborating on the complicated relationships that often turned on questions of race, dominance, and submissiveness in the lower Mississippi Valley. It specifically highlights the way in which the Natchez people became aware of the way the French viewed them as racially inferior and in turn defined their own people as distinct from Europeans and Africans.

By George Edward Milne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the dawn of the 1700s the Natchez viewed the first Francophones in the Lower Mississippi Valley as potential inductees to their chiefdom. This mistaken perception lulled them into permitting these outsiders to settle among them. Within two decades conditions in Natchez Country had taken a turn for the worse. The trickle of wayfarers had given way to a torrent of colonists (and their enslaved Africans) who refused to recognize the Natchez's hierarchy. These newcomers threatened to seize key authority-generating features of Natchez Country: mounds, a plaza, and a temple. This threat inspired these Indians to turn to a recent…


Book cover of Bounded Lives, Bounded Places: Free Black Society in Colonial New Orleans, 1769–1803

Christian Pinnen Author Of Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands

From my list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of race and slavery in the lower Mississippi Valley because the region is a fulcrum of United States history. I was always fascinated by the significance of the Mississippi River for American expansion, society, and culture. Ultimately, this region of the country is so deeply influenced by people of African descent that must be included in all histories, and I wanted to share their stories in a particular place during the colonial period. Telling these stories in places where they have commonly been less well represented is very rewarding and it opens more ways to understand the histories of places like Natchez along the Mississippi River.

Christian's book list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley

Christian Pinnen Why did Christian love this book?

Kimberly Hanger’s Bounded Lives, Bounded Places establishes the role of free people of color in Spanish New Orleans. She traces families and individuals of color throughout the Spanish decades and weaves a rich tapestry of their world in the Crescent City. Women play an important role in her work, and she teases out the way that free people of color sought to fit in the colonial society of Louisiana. While never able to become equal to white people, they created a space above enslaved people that enabled them to participate as ‘almost free’ in New Orleans’s society.

By Kimberly S. Hanger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During Louisiana's Spanish colonial period, economic, political, and military conditions combined with local cultural and legal traditions to favor the growth and development of a substantial group of free blacks. In Bounded Lives, Bounded Places, Kimberly S. Hanger explores the origin of antebellum New Orleans' large, influential, and propertied free black-or libre-population, one that was unique in the South. Hanger examines the issues libres confronted as they individually and collectively contested their ambiguous status in a complexly stratified society.
Drawing on rare archives in Louisiana and Spain, Hanger reconstructs the world of late-eighteenth-century New Orleans from the perspective of its…


Book cover of Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Necropolis describes how the yellow fever shaped New Orleans society in the 1800s.

While the fever was killing tens of thousands of people for almost two centuries from the founding of the city in 1718 until the last yellow fever epidemic in 1905, giving its victims horrible deaths in which they cried blood and vomited tar-like bile in the process, the disease helped preserve the city’s Creole culture by killing off a large proportion of immigrants to the city who were more susceptible than native-born New Orleans.

Before reading this book, I had no idea that being “acclimated” to yellow fever by surviving a case of this horrible disease was what made white transplants into bonafide citizens of the city. 

By Kathryn Olivarius,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Disease is thought to be a great leveler of humanity, but in antebellum New Orleans acquiring immunity from the scourge of yellow fever magnified the brutal inequities of slave-powered capitalism.

Antebellum New Orleans sat at the heart of America's slave and cotton kingdoms. It was also where yellow fever epidemics killed as many as 150,000 people during the nineteenth century. With little understanding of mosquito-borne viruses-and meager public health infrastructure-a person's only protection against the scourge was to "get acclimated" by surviving the disease. About half of those who contracted yellow fever died.

Repeated epidemics bolstered New Orleans's strict racial…


Book cover of Property

David Wright Faladé Author Of Black Cloud Rising

From my list on complicated Black-white relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me, the American story is about “mixedness”—about the ways in which people of various backgrounds and beliefs have come together, oftentimes despite themselves, to make up our modern racial stew. It has been true since the Founding and is all the more so now, even as we, as a society, continue to want to resist it. These novels achieve what I aspire to in my own writing: the white characters are as complex as the Black ones. And in their struggles to make sense of the world, they all reveal the complexity and contradictions of American identity.

David's book list on complicated Black-white relations

David Wright Faladé Why did David love this book?

A thin, little book and a true masterpiece!

Narrated by Manon Gaudet, the mistress of an 1830s plantation outside New Orleans, the novel forced me to adopt the perspective of a person who is both oppressed, as a woman in the 19th century, and oppressor, as a slave-owner, who is keenly observant and stunningly blind. Manon’s body-servant, Sarah, has given birth to a deaf wild-child who Manon cannot ignore, given his striking resemblance to her own husband. Manon, who is obsessed with Sarah too, is incapable of recognizing her as someone being victimized by her husband. She only sees a rival.

I teach Property in my classes. My students hate Manon. They also love the book!

By Valerie Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Property is Valerie Martin's powerful, startling novel set in America's deep South in the early nineteenth century: a story of freedom, both political and personal. Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie. This private drama is played out against a brooding atmosphere of slave unrest and bloody uprisings.


Book cover of Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery's Frontier

Alison M. Parker Author Of Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell

From my list on biographies of Black women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian who just spent over a decade writing the biography of the civil rights activist and feminist activist, Mary Church Terrell. I wrote two other history books before I wrote Unceasing Militant, my first biography. I so enjoyed writing it that I plan on writing another, this time on a black woman named Mary Hamilton who was a leader in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the 1960s. The authors I selected approached their biographies of black women with respect and critical compassion.

Alison's book list on biographies of Black women

Alison M. Parker Why did Alison love this book?

Lea VanderVelde’s biography of Mrs. Dred Scott captures the environments in which Harriet Scott lived her life and filed her suit for freedom in 1846 (it took 11 years before the Scotts’ legal case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court). Harriet Scott filed separately from her husband because she believed she could establish her freedom, thereby ensuring the freedom of her two daughters, whose condition followed that of the mother. An illiterate enslaved woman, Harriet Scott left virtually no documents. VanderVelde provides rich context in which to situate and explain Scott’s life and freedom struggle, vividly recreating her world. This informative book is well worth reading.

By Lea Vandervelde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Among the most infamous U.S. Supreme Court decisions is Dred Scott v. Sandford . Despite the case's signal importance as a turning point in America's history, the lives of the slave litigants have receded to the margins of the record, as conventional accounts have focused on the case's judges and lawyers. In telling the life of Harriet, Dred's wife and co-litigant in the case, this book provides a compensatory history to the generations of work that missed key
sources only recently brought to light. Moreover, it gives insight into the reasons and ways that slaves used the courts to establish…


Book cover of David Walker's Appeal: To the Coloured Citizens of the World

Keenan Norris Author Of The Confession of Copeland Cane

From my list on coming of age while Black.

Why am I passionate about this?

Besides having come of age while Black, I’ve published two coming-of-age novels about Black adolescents. Even before I became a writer, or an adult, I had had a particular interest in coming-of-age narratives. From Walter Dean Myers’ Harlem-located Young Adult novels to Toni Morrison’s Sula and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, I’ve always been attracted to such stories. However, what the book list offered here does is map a reading series for what I see as an exciting intellectual formation for a Black reader.

Keenan's book list on coming of age while Black

Keenan Norris Why did Keenan love this book?

I’ve long been fascinated with Walker’s life and work. Ten years ago, I devoted a chapter of my dissertation to Walker and now I’m working with TED-ED on an animated video and related teaching materials about the man whom Frederick Douglass himself cited as the progenitor of the radical abolitionist movement.

When teaching African-American Literature courses, I’ve found Walker’s Appeal to be an especially effective entry point for Black students who are tired of stories of slavery and Black debasement. Walker, as a freeborn Black man from the slaveholding south (and later Boston), offers a different vision: of impressive erudition and entrepreneurship, of Pan-African pride and militant resistance.

By David Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked David Walker's Appeal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1829 David Walker, a free black born in Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote one of America's most provocative political documents of the nineteenth century, Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World. Decrying the savage and unchristian treatment blacks suffered in the United States, Walker challenged his "afflicted and slumbering brethren" to rise up and cast off their chains. Walker worked tirelessly to circulate his book via underground networks in the South, and he was so successful that Southern lawmakers responded with new laws cracking down on "incendiary" antislavery material. Although Walker died in 1830, the Appeal remained a…


Book cover of Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Greece

Josiah Ober Author Of The Greeks and the Rational: The Discovery of Practical Reason

From my list on why ancient Greece still matters today.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the ancient Greeks a half-century ago. Ever since I have tried to learn from the past, by recognizing the ways in which the ancients were at once very like us and shockingly different. I only recently grasped that the Greeks were like us in their self-consciousness about human motivation: They recognized that many (perhaps most) people are driven by self-interest. But only a few of us are skilled at strategic choice-making. They knew that cooperation was necessary for human flourishing, but terribly hard to achieve. Today working together on common projects remains the greatest challenge for business, politics – and your everyday life. 

Josiah's book list on why ancient Greece still matters today

Josiah Ober Why did Josiah love this book?

The United States today still bears the scars of our long and terrible history of slavery. In this new and wonderfully thoughtful history of ancient Greek slavery, Sarah Forsdyke brings us face-to-face with the lived experience of a very different, but also harrowing, history of human bondage. Forsdyke delves into the question of how slaves lived and worked, how they resisted their oppression, and how the fact of slavery defined Greek society and economy. The intertwined development of a market economy, a citizen-centered democracy, and the systematic extraction of labor from unfree people is a stark reminder that our American story, although in many ways distinctive, was not unique. 

By Sara Forsdyke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Slavery in ancient Greece was commonplace. In this book Sara Forsdyke uncovers the wide range of experiences of slaves and focuses on their own perspectives, rather than those of their owners, giving a voice to a group that is often rendered silent by the historical record. By reading ancient sources 'against the grain,' and through careful deployment of comparative evidence from more recent slave-owning societies, she demonstrates that slaves engaged in a variety of strategies to deal with their conditions of enslavement, ranging from calculated accommodation to full-scale rebellion. Along the way, she establishes that slaves made a vital contribution…


Book cover of Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

Michael Zakim Author Of Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made

From my list on modern capitalist economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both a scholar and a citizen I have spent my adult life seeking to better understand the dynamics of power, especially power wielded in flagrantly unjust fashion in societies otherwise founded on notions of life, liberty, and happiness for all. This has led me to study the history of the economy, not just as a material but as a cultural system that encodes the categories of modern life:  self and society, private and public, body and soul, and needs and desires.

Michael's book list on modern capitalist economy

Michael Zakim Why did Michael love this book?

Eugene Genovese was the most brilliant of a talented generation of scholars whose studies of New World slavery have since been largely deposed by a far more simplistic, black-and-white (pun intended) version of the same. 

Genovese’s magnum opus, Roll, Jordan, Roll, offers an unsparing view of a reality in which neither master nor slave “could express the simplest human feelings without reference to the other,” an especially intimate form of class rule which struck a compelling contrast to the anonymity of the wage nexus increasingly prevalent in the Northern states. 

These dialectics played out in a continual, if asymmetric, power struggle at the heart of plantation life, where the economy could not be separated out from racial, sexual, religious, and ideological experience, again, in stark contrast to the liberal division of social life into autonomous spheres of existence.

By Eugene D. Genovese,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A testament to the power of the human spirit under conditions of extreme oppression, this landmark history of slavery in the South challenged conventional views by illuminating the many forms of resistance to dehumanization that developed in slave society. 

Displaying keen insight into the minds of both enslaved persons and slaveholders, historian Eugene Genovese investigates the ways that enslaved persons forced their owners to acknowledge their humanity through culture, music, and religion. He covers a vast range of subjects, from slave weddings and funerals, to language, food, clothing, and labor, and places particular emphasis on religion as both a major…


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