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Slaves for Peanuts: A Story of Conquest, Liberation, and a Crop That Changed History

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by Jori Lewis
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Americans may be familiar with the links between slavery and the cultivation of cotton and sugarcane, but this intricate and readable account demonstrates that demand for peanuts in industrial Europe resulted in the enslavement of countless people in Africa through systems that endured into the twentieth century.

Jori Lewis, a journalist and Whiting Grant recipient, examines the ways in which British- and French-controlled West Africa adapted their agriculture to produce peanuts, which were prized for their oil, used in everything from replacements for olive oil to industrial machinery.

Tracing the stories of people who found themselves working on vast peanut plantations, as well as those who sought to help enslaved people escape or find protection in complexly overlapping legal domains, Lewis illuminates systems that prized profit far above human dignity. 

These injustices were opposed and supported by people from many backgrounds, not always predictably, demonstrating the corrupting allure of injustices which enrich a few at the expense of many.

Hardcover. Maps. Black-and-white photographs.

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