A comprehensive study of how slavery and enslaved people shaped the modern world.
A World Transformed explores how slavery thrived at the heart of the entire Western world for more than three centuries. Arguing that slavery can be fully understood only by stepping back from traditional national histories, this book collects the scattered accounts of the latest modern scholarship into a comprehensive history of slavery and its shaping of the world we know. Celebrated historian James Walvin tells a global story that covers everything from the capitalist economy, labor, and the environment, to social culture and ideas of family, beauty, and taste.
This book underscores just how thoroughly slavery is responsible for the making of the modern world. The enforced transportation and labor of millions of Africans became a massive social and economic force, catalyzing the rapid development of multiple new and enormous trading systems with profound global consequences. The labor and products of enslaved people changed the consumption habits of millions––in India and Asia, Europe and Africa, in colonized and Indigenous American societies. Across time, slavery shaped many of the dominant features of Western taste: items and habits or rare and costly luxuries, some of which might seem, at first glance, utterly removed from the horrific reality of slavery. A World Transformed traces the global impacts of slavery over centuries, far beyond legal or historical endpoints, confirming that the world created by slave labor lives on today.