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Chicago
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History
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Book Review
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Planting An Empire By Russo, Jean Burrell, J. Elliott Russo (Book Review Sample)

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TO CONDUCT A BOOK REVIEW ON PLANTING AN EMPIRE BY Russo, Jean Burrell, and J. Elliott Russo

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Content:

BOOK REVIEW: PLANTING AN EMPIRE
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Introduction
The book Planting an Empire looks into the history that defines the economic and social activities of the Chesapeake region. The narrative tells a story of two areas that were similar yet distinct for settlement and interaction during the colonial era. Before the American Revolution, Maryland and Virginia, connected by the Chesapeake Bay, formed a politically prominent and prosperous region in North America. However, irrespective of the similarities in emphasizing on tobacco farming, having the same soils and climate, as well as using the free labor provided by slaves to drive their economies, these sister colonies took deviating paths in their social and economic development.[Russo, Jean Burrell, and J. Elliott Russo. 2012. Planting an empire: the early Chesapeake in British North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.]
Thesis Interpretation
The authors of the book describe the colonial laws as ones that brutally undermined the lives of all blacks, both free and enslaved; and portrayed the region as a slavery society that was defined by violence and inherent discrimination.They also maintain that white people who were poor and did not own slaves considered themselves to have many similarities with blacks than with men who had acquired wealth from slavery. Therefore, as much as the book gives an insight of how important slaves were to the economic development of Chesapeake during the colonial period; the authors failed to explore the human aspect of slavery. Slaves might have appeared to be nothing but livestock in the presence of colonialists, and that is precisely how the book portrays them.[Morris, Ian. The measure of civilization: how social development decides the fate of nations. Princeton University Press, 2013.]
Purpose and Target Audience the Book
The authors of Planting an Empire - Jean B. Russo and J. Elliott Russo – evaluate the history shared by the two regions. They do not only look into the political differences and economic disparities that alienated Maryland and Virginia from each other, but also the role tobacco played in the colonies, their uncertain origins and how a settler society was developed. By keeping track of the Chesapeake region’s history for more than one hundred and fifty years, Planting an Empire discusses key regional events and significant developments that were common to both colonies in and in-depth, and clear prose. These events and developments include the French and Indian war, ‘Bacon’s Rebellion’ in Virginia, and ‘Plundering Time’ in Maryland.
From the book, it is evident how the regional conflicts and internal differences that arose in the 17th century paved the way for a more lucid regional culture in the 18th century that was driven by a common dedication to increasing economic maturity through enslaved labor. Therefore, the book does not only touch on government and its officials, and wealthy plantation owners; but revolves around all the people that took part in establishing an empire in the Chesapeake Bay region. These included non-English immigrants, Native Americans, both enslaved and free blacks, and poor planters and women.[Ibid.]
From time to time, the book chiefly focuses on economics, but also provides background and instances that balance ships’ manifests and estate lists. This balance makes the reader understand how economic decisions not only had an impact on life ant a personal level but also at local and macroscopic levels. However, it is regrettable that the aspect of slavery is looked at as an empowering economic activity and the authors tend to presume that the meaning of freedom is static and universal.
There is no other book or written material that gives a broad perspective of the history of Virginia and Maryland colonies and the places they held in the British empire like Planting an Empire does. The authors provide a terse historical summary ofthe Chesapeake Bay region from the time the English settlement started until the time when the colonial period was over. It is for this reason that the book will be a good read for undergraduate students and more helpful to tutor in updating their lectures.
Organization and Coherence
The book Planting an Empire is well researched and exhaustively provides a historical account of the events that shaped the Chesapeake region; ranging from the development of Maryland and Virginia as sister colonies in the 1600s to the English settlement and early European exploration of the of the region. The narrative covers the period between the start of exploration until the mid-1700s, during the French and Indian war. The major argument that Jean and Elliot Russo bring forth is that if the Chesapeake colonies are assessed in their first century of existence, then it can be concluded that the entire white society looked at enslaved labor as a way to creating substantial wealth. The central focus of the book is theirrefutable wealth, how it was created and then transferred, and the consequences that followed.[Ibid.]
Ranging from the role played by English investment companies in the establishment of settlements in Maryland and Virginia and the emergence of the region as a tobacco colony to the diversification, and westward expansion, the theme of economics is prominent all through the book. The topic of economics links the Chesapeake region to the Caribbean where the colonial masters exported commodities such as wheat and timber; and from which most of the first enslaved blacks arrived in the Northern American colonies and not directly from Africa. Complex cultural changes were createdas social stability was established in the colonies. These changes allowed elite families to amass even more resources, some of which were in the form of slaves. Since it was difficult for small planters to acquire slaves, it became a trait for a sophisticated life for plantation owners not only to own slaves, who were tasked with different responsibilities in managing plantation life both at home and in the fields.[Tiryakian, Edward A. "Civilization in the Global Era." Social Theory and Regional Studies in the Global Age (2014): 91.]
The authors of the book describe the colonial laws as ones that brutally undermined the lives of all blacks, both free and enslaved; and portrayed the region as a slavery society that was defined by violence and inherent discrimination.They also maintain that white people who were poor and did not own slaves considered themselves to have many similarities with blacks than with men who had acquired wealth from slavery. Therefore, as much as the book gives an insight of how important slaves were to the economic development of Chesapeake during the colonial period; the authors failed to explore the human aspect of slavery. Slaves might have appeared to be nothing but livestock in the presence of colonialists, and that is precisely how the book portrays them.[Morris, Ian. The measure of civilization: how social development decides the fate of nations. Princeton University Press, 2013.]
Authors’ Research and Style
In the last chapter of the book, the authors go into considerable detail concerning the lives of people of color during the colonial period in Chesapeake. Jean and Elliot Russo g...
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