Front cover image for Roll, Jordan, roll : the world the slaves made

Roll, Jordan, roll : the world the slaves made

'Genovese's long-awaited magnum also the most profound, learned and detailed analysis of Negro slavery to appear since World War II,' said the New York Times, who also selected it as one of the seven significant books of 1974 - an opinion that was echoed by the Sunday Times in its round-up world publishing for that year. Professor Genovese has drawn on an immense range of evidence - family papers, slave journals, contemporary newspapers, plantation records, as well as on the expertise of authorities in many diverse fields - sociologists, folklorists, theologians and legal historians. But his enormous achievement is to have woven a mass of material into a fascinating and readable book, and to have brought to its interpretation a delicacy, a sympathy and a broad humanism that makes this not a dry history, but a brilliant reconstruction of the lives of real, three-dimensional people. The picture that this book presents is a radical reassessment of an entire society. It destroys many of the accepted myths about the Old South and most of its stereotypes - the genial Mammy, the emasculated black male, the omnipotent master and overseer, the obsequious black preacher. The master-slave relationship was much more complicated than that. Though slavery remains one of history's great crimes, slaves were able to adopt strategies which enabled them to resist both cruelty and degradation. The greatest danger came not so much from the brutality of the masters as from their attempts to make the slaves a party to a system of paternalism that was both more insidious and harder to resist than straightforward tyranny. That the slaves were able to maintain their individual and collective identity, and ultimately to enrich and to shame the culture that enslaved them, they owed to strength of personality, a shrewd manipulation of mutual dependence, and, perhaps above all, to extraordinary religious faith. --From publisher's description
Print Book, English, [1974]
Pantheon Books, New York, [1974]