By Rosemary Wright » 14 Mar 2019
Official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid” by Dr. Eugene DeFriest Bétit ________________________________________
4 out of 4 stars
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Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid, by Dr. Eugene DeFriest Bétit, contains the history of racism in the United States. It tells about the racial prejudice against African Americans since 1619. It shows the protracted war fought to eliminate the scourge of chattel slavery from America. In addition, it unveils how the racism prevalent in the society prevailed in the U.S. Army, and how, through bravery and discipline, Black Americans made significant contributions to the liberation of their race. It describes the difficulties they have experienced while trying to survive in white society.

Discussing sensitive and controversial topics, this book is intriguing and enlightening. The subjects it deals with are difficult, but Dr. Bétit succeeded in presenting the historical facts in a coherent and engaging manner. Full of gripping stories, this nonfictional read gives much insight into slavery in America. Furthermore, it consists of black and white photos, maps, and figures, which will enable readers to relate to the stories easily.

Comprising twelve stand-alone chapters, the book discusses the effects of white supremacy, service of the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War, the evolution of emancipation, Reconstruction era, Freemen’s Bureau, Lost Cause, Jim Crow laws, Great Migration, civil rights movement and so on. It contains some descriptions of vicious acts of violence. Focusing on the trials and tribulations experienced by Black Americans, it shows how random violence was being used against them. So, if you are fainthearted or don’t like reading books about racism and slavery, you can pass this one.

Telling about the bitter war caused by slavery in 1861, the narrative includes thought-provoking quotes by prominent persons. My favorite is the one by Marquise de Lafayette, which states that “I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of America if I could have conceived thereby that I was founding a land of slavery.” The book comprises 502 pages, and at the end of each chapter, there are endnotes. Also, at the end of the narration, the author included a bibliography for those interested in pursuing the topics in depth and an index for easy reading.

In conclusion, I rate Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid 4 out of 4 stars.  It was exceptionally well edited; I didn’t find any grammar or typographical errors. I recommend it to anyone who is courageous enough to face facts and learn more about the history of racism and slavery in the United States.

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