Ford wants readers to realize the lasting and severe harm that slavery has done to our country on both an intellectual level and a visceral, emotional one. There is no lack of evidence to support his argument, and his book is very well researched and documented. But unlike histories that are so loaded with documents, statistics and official accounts of proceedings that they numb the reader, transforming the tragedy of the past into mere abstraction, Of Blood and Sweat adroitly avoids these pitfalls. Instead, Ford weaves the stories of real people who lived through these times into his narrative, making the information feel immediate and alive ... Ford makes a clear case that the past is never over. The wounds inflicted by slavery have never healed, and he argues that they will continue to harm our country until we deal with them honestly. For many Americans, reading Of Blood and Sweat will be an excellent first step in that process.
A powerful and personal argument about the myriad ways Black labor created white wealth in the United States over the centuries. Ford uses the lives of specific Black men and women at pivotal moments...to reveal the ongoing dynamics and interplay of freedom and unfreedom (especially slavery) ... Ford also makes his subject personal by interweaving his own life experiences into the narrative ... Ford’s forceful arguments and writing will compel readers to face the facts of the long history of exploitation and appropriation that have defined so much of America’s struggle with itself to give substance and meaning to its promise of 'freedom' for all.
[A] fascinating history ... Ford weaves in stories of resistance....explains complex financial instruments in lucid terms; and paints vivid scenes of Black life in the U.S. The result is an essential reckoning with the roots of the racial wealth gap in America.
The book teems with ideas, sometimes in an onrushing embarrassment of riches, and often repeats the inarguable idea that as makers of much of the modern world’s wealth, Black people continue to deserve a share ... A compelling argument for long-overdue reparations—though much more than that alone.