In The Political Economy of Slavery, Eugene Genovese has made an original contribution to our understanding of ante-bellum Southern history. His contribution lies not so much in the discovery of new facts as in placing familiar materials in a fresh theoretical context. Genovese is the first to systematically apply to the pre-Civil War South the theory of economic backwardness developed by the particular Marxist school which the late Paul Baran dominated. Genovese’s book, in short, is a critique of the socio-economic structure of the slave South, much in the same manner as a theorist of the Baran persuasion would analyze contemporary Honduras.
Much of the book is taken up with Genovese’s largely successful effo...
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