The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThe biggest early-America news in popular culture this week may be the film adaptation of 12 Years a Slave, which will enter wide release in the US on November 1. In an interview with Terry Gross, director Steve McQueen says he wants Solomon Northup’s story to enter public consciousness the way Anne Frank’s diary has. David Blight discussed it with Terry Gross and recommended 12 Years a Slave as “a very good corrective” to ordinary Hollywood treatments of slavery. In the New Yorker, Annette Gordon-Reed uses the film to discuss some of the opportunities and problems slave narratives present to historians. At Grandland, Wesley Morris describes how the film “presents savagery in civil terms.”

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The Week in Early American History

TWEAHIt’s not every Sunday that we get to begin this recap with a genuinely fresh proslavery argument. But this week the International Herald Tribune ran a brief column by Humayan Dar, a self-described “Islamic economist” with a PhD from Cambridge.  Under the headline, “Modern slavery: how bad is bonded labour,” the essay decried “the negative perception of slavery and bonded labour,” and suggested that a legal forced-labor regime in Pakistan would “work for the mutual benefit of the parties, the employer and the worker and their families.”

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