Comprising personal accounts from an intensely consequential chapter in human history, the transatlantic slave trade, The Great Stain takes listeners from the depths of suffering to the heights of human dignity.
There have been numerous books about the why, when, and where of slavery in America, but there is a dearth of material exposing what slavery was actually like. In The Great Stain, researcher Noel Rae frames firsthand accounts from former slaves, slave owners, and even African slavers.
Rae exposes the commerce and culture of slavery, not only from an economic or moral standpoint but also through multitudinous perspectives within it: a young girl is beaten after being accused of stealing a piece of candy, a slave ship’s surgeon recounts brutal treatment and squalid conditions, an Englishman visiting Haiti observes as violent uprisings break out. So many viewpoints ensure that no historical blind spot will leave the picture of an era incomplete.
The Great Stain weaves a tapestry of good and evil, of greed and kindness, and of a civilization as it develops, evolves, and continues to move toward the future. More than that, the listener will encounter the complex economic underpinning of an entire society based on the exploitation of the cheapest labor.
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“To allow narrative voices, black and white, to come through, Rae draws on a remarkable assemblage of documents…as well as oral histories of former slaves and excerpts from the writings of free persons who lived in the South…The result is a uniquely immediate, multivoiced, specific, arresting, and illuminating look at life under slavery in America.”
Booklist (starred review)