HIGH-PROFILE SCHOLAR. Berry has appeared on several radio and television shows including “Who Do You Think You Are?” Expecting blurbs from Isabel Wilkerson, Spike Lee, and Sven Beckert.
ORIGINAL RESEARCH. Berry draws from a database of over 80,000 slaves, medical records, autopsy reports, insurance policies, and cemetery records. She also examines the relatively unknown “domestic slave cadaver trade” and traces the illicit sale of dead bodies to medical schools for human anatomy courses.
GIVING VOICE TO THE SLAVES themselves, each chapter provides a window into enslaved peoples’ experiences, shedding light on their personality, service, and legacy.
FEATURING COMPREHENSIVE TIMELINE
“Berry’s groundbreaking work in the historiography of American slavery deserves a wide readership beyond academia.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“In this sharp, affecting study, Berry reminds us of the cold calculus at the intersection of slavery and capitalism…A well-researched, effectively presented piece of scholarship that forthrightly confronts slavery’s brute essence.”
“…highly readable and addressing the most heartbreaking and starkly gruesome aspects of slavery.”
“A brilliant resurrection of the forgotten people who gave their lives to build our country. Rigorously researched and powerfully told, this book tallies the human price paid for the nation we now live in and restores these unrecognized Americans—their hopes, loves, and disregarded dreams—to their rightful place in history. Searing, revelatory, and vital to understanding our nation’s inequities.”
—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
“Daina Ramey Berry’s harrowing account of how slaveholders turned every aspect of a slave’s life into a commodity to be sold on markets—from the reproductive possibilities of enslaved women to the corpses of deceased slaves—is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding American history, or our contemporary dilemmas. Reading The Price for Their Pound of Flesh will leave you with an overwhelming sense of sadness, but also with great anger that we are still failing to fully overcome this history’s legacy.”
—Sven Beckert, author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History
“Daina Berry has written the richest account of the many ways in which an enslaved African American’s body was bought and sold throughout her or his lifetime. From the cradle to the grave and beyond, enslavers priced black bodies based on their imagined fitness for labor, sexual exploitation, use as collateral, and even their value after death as dissection cadavers. In horrific detail, Berry shows that there was a price tag placed on every pound of flesh. She also shows the efforts of enslaved people to assert that their lives had values beyond the money that could be rendered from their muscles and extracted from their bones. Out of the certainty that their souls were pearls beyond price, black people fought to make room for their own system of human values.”
—Edward E. Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism