New books about slavery, cotton and commerce

January 21, 2015 3:07 PM

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In the South of my childhood, a field of cotton on a sunny fall day was a beautiful sight - the whitest of white bolls against a blue sky.

Unless you were picking it. Before the age of mechanized cultivation, my parents hand-picked cotton on their parents' farms. Their memories were of backbreaking work, requiring a constant stoop and hands scored by painful pricks from the spiny bolls. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ancestors, who toiled as...

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