Economist Apologizes For Review That Slammed Book On Slavery As ‘Advocacy’

The Economist apologized Friday for running a book review that slammed a new history volume about slavery in America as “advocacy” because it portrayed all black slaves as “victims.”

An unbylined review of Ed Baptist’s book “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” that was published Thursday cast Baptist’s account as one-sided. It also dismissed the Cornell historian’s central argument, which was that the expansion of slavery in America fueled the nation’s rise to economic dominance.

“[Mr. Baptist] overstates his case when he dismisses ‘the traditional explanations’ for America’s success: its individualistic culture, Puritanism, the lure of open land and high wages, Yankee ingenuity and government policies,” the review read.

The review went on to conclude that Baptist’s book was biased.

“Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery,” the review read. “Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.”

The Economist replaced that review with an apology Friday.

“Slavery was an evil system, in which the great majority of victims were blacks, and the great majority of whites involved in slavery were willing participants and beneficiaries of that evil,” the apology read. “We regret having published this and apologise for having done so.”

The publication said that it was “withdrawing the review,” but included a link to the original text “in the interests of transparency.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: