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The Price for Their Pound of Flesh by Daina Ramey Berry
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The Price for Their Pound of Flesh

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The Price for Their Pound of Flesh by Daina Ramey Berry
Paperback $18.95
Dec 26, 2017 | ISBN 9780807067147

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    Dec 26, 2017 | ISBN 9780807067147

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Product Details


Winner of the 2018 Hamilton Book Award, University Coop (Austin, TX)
Winner of the 2018 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Book Prize (SHEAR)
Winner of the 2018 Phillis Wheatley Literary Award, Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage
Finalist for the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Yale University

“Berry’s groundbreaking work in the historiography of American slavery deserves a wide readership beyond academia.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“In this sharp, affecting study, Berry reminds us of the cold calculus at the intersection of slavery and capitalism…A well-researched, effectively presented piece of scholarship that forthrightly confronts slavery’s brute essence.”
Kirkus Reviews

“…highly readable and addressing the most heartbreaking and starkly gruesome aspects of slavery.”
Library Journal

“With The Price for Their Pound of Flesh, Berry is now seen as a breakthrough writer who completed the herculean task of filling in the blanks of one of the darkest episodes in American history.”
Essence Magazine

“Brings to light the gruesome history of the desecration and dissection of black bodies after death, especially by professors of anatomy in American colleges and medical schools.”
—Adam Rothman (professor of history at Georgetown University), American Historical Review

“A brilliant resurrection of the forgotten people who gave their lives to build our country. Rigorously researched and powerfully told, this book tallies the human price paid for the nation we now live in and restores these unrecognized Americans—their hopes, loves, and disregarded dreams—to their rightful place in history. Searing, revelatory, and vital to understanding our nation’s inequities.”
—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

“Daina Ramey Berry’s harrowing account of how slaveholders turned every aspect of a slave’s life into a commodity to be sold on markets—from the reproductive possibilities of enslaved women to the corpses of deceased slaves—is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding American history, or our contemporary dilemmas. Reading The Price for Their Pound of Flesh will leave you with an overwhelming sense of sadness, but also with great anger that we are still failing to fully overcome this history’s legacy.”
—Sven Beckert, author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History

“Daina Berry has written the richest account of the many ways in which an enslaved African American’s body was bought and sold throughout her or his lifetime. From the cradle to the grave and beyond, enslavers priced black bodies based on their imagined fitness for labor, sexual exploitation, use as collateral, and even their value after death as dissection cadavers. In horrific detail, Berry shows that there was a price tag placed on every pound of flesh. She also shows the efforts of enslaved people to assert that their lives had values beyond the money that could be rendered from their muscles and extracted from their bones. Out of the certainty that their souls were pearls beyond price, black people fought to make room for their own system of human values.”
—Edward E. Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Table Of Contents

Author’s Note


List of Images

The Value of Life and Death

Preconception: Women and Future Increase

Infancy and Childhood

Adolescence, Young Adulthood, and Soul Values

Midlife and Older Adulthood

Elderly and Superannuated

Postmortem: Death and Ghost Values

The Afterlives of Slavery


Appendix: A Timeline of Slavery, Medical History, and Black Bodies

Note on Sources: A History of People and Corpses



About the Author

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