This month sees the UK cinema release of Steve McQueen’s brilliant and brutal new film, 12 Years a Slave. McQueen has been vocal in condemning cinema’s wariness in confronting the subjects of slavery and race, and his film has galvanized a new interest in the unspeakably ugly period in American history.
Based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 documentary, 12 Years a Slave takes an unflinching look at the story of a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.
Verso has long held a commitment to telling similar stories, and we now present a selection of books as the essential starting point for those looking to learn more about the roots, events and legacies of slavery and racial tensions in America and the world.
Out in the UK this month, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Steven Speilberg's Lincoln has energized interest in a period of American history defined by race. Rather than make our own critiques or slap downs, we present these books to fill the gaps left by Hollywood.
In a recent review for The Journal of African American History
, Gerald Horne recommends David R. Roediger's How Race Survived US History
as a book to be relied upon for "much needed historical perspective" as the Obama presidency plays out. And with Obama's 2012 reelection campaign having officially kicked off today (and with The Hill
suggesting he "would probably do well to steer clear of race in general during his upcoming reelection season"), now seems as good a time as any to pick up How Race Survived US History