Worst Book Review Ever Criticizes Slave History For Not Presenting 'Both Sides'
September 5, 2014

An anonymous review of a new book about slavery and capitalism in The Economist must be read to be believed, particularly the closing line:

Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.

Ummm...yes? The point of the book is how American capitalism is based upon the slavery of black people. Slavery sort of automatically makes them victims, right?

Jonathan Chait's post is the best answer I've seen:

I can think of reasons other than ideological bias to explain why almost all the black people would be victims, and the white people villains, in a book about white people who captured black people and subjected them to torture, rape, murder, humiliation, and oppressive forced labor.

Unless The Economist wants to suggest that there were overlooked cases of deserved slavery, it seems pretty intuitive that the black people are mostly going to be victims in a book about slavery. It also seems like the white people are inevitably not going to come off terribly well, either, in a book about slavery. Sure, there were plenty of white people who had nothing to do with slavery, but they may not feature so heavily in a book about slavery.

What he said.

Update: The Economist has withdrawn the review with an apology for publishing it at all.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.