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By Ken Edelstein:
Once in a very long while, a book comes along that can revise a people’s view of their own culture — not through abstract theories or appeals to ideology, but by constructing a true narrative based on long-forgotten facts and the stories of real people. Douglas A. Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name,” which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction Monday, is such a book. Those who read it are forced to accept a new understanding of the American South — that racial injustice was more violent, widespread and recent than most of us realized, and that it played a larger role in the region’s economic and cultural development than many Southerners will ever acknowledge. The central thesis is that, contrary to what we learn in the history books, slavery did not end with the Civil War. Rather, it lived on well into the 20th century as an informal, […]