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Bookshelf: Essential Reading on the American Dilemma
Elsewhere in this issue, Eugene Genovese directs our attention to the "enormous body of excellent scholarship" in Black Studies. Indeed, within the scope of a single issue of Books & Culture, we can only begin to suggest the range of important work that is being done in this field. Herewith a quick survey of eight recently published books that should be on the shelves of your local library. (If not, request that they be ordered!) Together they provide a superb overview of the black experience in America.
In A Separate Canaan: The Making of an Afro-Moravian World in North Carolina, 1763-1840 (Univ. of North Carolina Press; $45, hardback; $17.95, paper), Jon Sensbach tells the story of a settlement of German-speaking Moravian Brethren and their interaction with African American slaves, a number of whom were baptized into Moravian congregations. While the Moravians condoned slavery as part of the worldly order ordained by God (and owned slaves themselves), their acceptance of African Americans as co-heirs in salvation pointed the way to a road not taken.
Mark Smith's Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South (Univ. of North Carolina Press, $45 hardback, $16.95 paper) documents the shift from a premodern sense of time—"God's time"—to clock time and the degree of "obedience and regularity" it fostered, cruelly so in the "time discipline … enforced or imposed by time-conscious planter-managers."
Lewis Tappan and the Evangelical War Against Slavery (Louisana State Univ. Press $16.95, paper) is not a new book but rather a reissue of Bertram Wyatt-Brown's 1969 biography of the abolitionist leader. Read Wyatt-Brown for a corrective to the simplistic and inaccurate portrait of Tappan in Steven Spielberg's film Amistad.
Milton Sernett's Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration (Duke University Press; $54.95, hardback; $18.95, paper) begins with the lynching and mutilation of Anthony Crawford, a prosperous ...