About the Author(s)
David Silkenat is a Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of several books, including Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War, a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.
"David Silkenat has written an astoundingly original history of southern slavery. To the crimes against humanity committed by enslavers, one can add environmental destruction. It is the enslaved, whose interactions with the flora, fauna, and landscape allow them to create alternative geographies of freedom, who emerge as stewards of the south. Scars on the Land reveals perceptively the long afterlives of slavery all around us." -- Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition
"This beautifully crafted book provides a striking new context for understanding southern slavery. Silkenat takes us deep into the South's fields, forests, and swamps, showing how the natural world shaped the daily lives of enslaved and enslavers alike. At the same time, we see how slavery remade the southern landscape and how African American knowledge of the environment eventually helped facilitate emancipation. Readers will never think of the South's 'peculiar institution' in the same way again." -- Timothy Silver, co-author of An Environmental History of the Civil War
"Here we see the outline of a three-dimensional history of slavery: one in which 'power' and 'resistance' and 'work' and 'agency' are to be understood as dynamic material processes. The system's ecological and spatial aspects are understood by David Silkenat as both the determining parameters and agonistic products of its economic and racial aspects." -- Walter Johnson, author of The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States
"Synthesizing decades of scholarship in slavery and environmental studies, and offering a new interpretative framework, Scars on the Land expands our understanding of the environmental and human disaster that was built into the business model of racial slavery in the US South and integral to its power. In this timely and illuminating book, Silkenat refuses to let us forget that the devastation of black life was of a piece with the deep entanglement of the expansionary visions and policies of slaveholders that laid waste to the land with a force peculiar to slavery. He makes clear how, in the production of cash crops, the mining of coal, or the tapping of pine trees for tar, slavery and environmental devastation went hand in hand and at tremendous cost to black life and in
the years before the Civil War, a narrowing of the possibilities of black freedom." -- Thavolia Glymph, author of The Women's Fight: The Civil War's Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation