Many Thousands Gone
Many Thousands Gone was written by Ira Berlin. Berlin has written several books mainly pertaining to American history during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He mainly focuses on the history of slavery from its origin in the Atlantic and in America. His books have received many awards including the Best First Book prize, Albert Beveridge prize, and the Bancroft Prize. He has also has been awarded a large number of grants by many foundations, organizations, and universities, some of which including the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Arco Foundation, the National Historical Publication and Records Commission, and the University of Maryland.
Berlin’s purpose for writing is to inform the reader how slavery began in mainland North America and how it developed and expanded in the first to centuries. On the first page of his prologue, Berlin tells you exactly what his book is about. He says “Many Thousands Gone is a history of African-American slavery in mainland North America during the first two centuries of European and African settlement.” He also informs you that “like all history, it is the study of changing relationships.” He begins his introduction by talking about the origin of slavery in North America, “not in Africa or America but in the netherworld between the two continents”, due to the interaction between Africans and Europeans.
To be able to understand the first two centuries of slavery one must be able to distinguish between societies with slaves and slave societies, which is exactly what Berlin does. In the opening chapters of his book Berlin talks about society with slaves and Atlantic creoles in the Chesapeake. Atlantic Creoles were slaves with roots to Africa, Europe, and America. Although expansion of these societies began quickly, northern colonies still began as societies with slaves and the lack of plantations in the north shaped black life. Berlin then changes his focus from the...