*The Internal Enemy*

The author is Alan Taylor and the subtitle is Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832.

This is one of the best history books I have read, ever.  Every sentence is excellent (is there higher praise?).  And let me add: 1) I hate reading books about Virginia, and 2) I feel “I’ve read enough books about slavery.”

I learned a great deal about a variety of topics including The War of 1812, how the British used escaped slaves against the Americans, the tensions between western and Tidewater Virginia, the early Virginia debates about how to eventually deport the slaves.  But that hardly gets at what makes this book special.  More importantly than any of those specifics, it brings an entire period to life in a memorable manner.

I read this one because Jon Elster urged me too.  Don’t forget, by the way:

In 1819 Virginia remained the preeminent slave state, home to nearly a third of the nation’s one and a half million slaves.

Very highly recommended, I hope it wins the National Book Award and it will be prominent on my forthcoming best books of 2013 list.


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