Remarkable book. I picked it up based upon the recommendation of a friend, not knowing what it would say, and expecting it to be just a polemic.
It is not. It is mostly a quiet narrative about the experience of American citizens from 1865 – 1960. There is more emphasis upon the experience in Alabama because the author focuses on one family and its descendants, but there are examples spread broadly throughout the South.
It shouldn’t be seen as a “slam upon the South” book, but it does go in to detail about the experience of people (mostly men and mostly from the South) who were simply captured for little or no reason and essentially forced to work for U.S. corporations.
Much of the success of the South around the turn of the last century can be traced to rise of industry centered in Birmingham AL and in the cotton industry before the arrival of the boll weevil; this book helps explain how these riches were accumulated and who benefited. It gives great context to the Civil Rights era in American history, on why it was simply so astonishing that one class of American citizens decided to fully participate in American culture, economics, and politics.
Of course I recommend this book, but I would advise the reader not to see it as something to use as a weapon for or against currently held beliefs. It should be simply read, thought about, and considered. It’s a book about people just like you who through being alive when they were came to be cruelly and unjustly treated.
The only thing I’d say that would be as strong as a plea is that the reader consider that these people were American citizens. And to remember the words “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”