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In this classic short introduction to one of the most important and controversial topics in American history, Peter J Parish investigates slavery from political, economic and social perspectives. He explains the paradox upon which slavery rested: its guiding principle was that slaves were property, but its everyday practice demonstrated the impossibility of denying the slave's humanity. He takes the reader through the origin of the Slave system in the South, outlines the controversies surrounding the economics of slavery and asks what life for slaves was really like. This is the perfect starting point from which to explore American slavery's rich and controversial literature.