So... this book. Major book, written by a WSJ reporter, reviewed by some national newspapers when it came out. And yet I've never heard anyone mention this part of history before. I'm reading the book now, and it's really disturbing. Short summary: after the Civil War, white lawmen in the South started arresting black freedmen on the thinnest of pretexts. There would a fine to get out of jail. If they couldn't pay the fine -- and most of them couldn't -- their debt was sold, usually to forced labor mines owned by subsidiaries of US Steel. Thousands died in those camps. The graves are still visible near some of the old dig sites. I don't know about you all, but when I was in school black history was taught like this: slaves were freed, then nothing more until the 1960's Civil Rights movement. There's a reason for this -- between the camps and sharecropping, African Americans were still essentially slaves until WWII. It's horrible, and it's shameful that this part of our country's history has been swept under the rug for all these years. Douglas Blackmon -- the author -- had no problems finding evidence from this period of history. The financial transactions were stowed away in the basements of Southern courthouses, basically. There are almost no accounts of the time written by African-Americans, because most Southern blacks were illiterate. But there's plenty of documentation about the lives of the whites who "leased" them, so Blackmon had a lot of material for his book. I'd like to see more people read this, or at least be aware of it. It's horrible, but I think it's important that people know what happened.