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Kestrel and Arin are naturally at war with themselves as much as with their enemy. Mostly aftermaths of battles are described -- piled-up bodies of people poisoned, a floor slick with blood after the massacre of prisoners. A few scenes describe brutality as it happens: the slitting of a throat and the sexual assault of woman, stopped after a forced kiss and a black eye.
A duel ends in minor injuries. Talk of slave whippings and maltreatment -- if a runaway slave is caught, ears and noses are cut off. Mention that Kestrel's mother died from plague when she was 8 and that she watched the doctor who treated her illness kill himself. Another sad death from illness and one near-death from poisoning.
Exploding cannons cause much of the battle damage. A couple of steamy kisses. Talk of slave owners having affairs with slaves and how to be discreet about it. Kestrel is 17 and drinks wine at dinner with her father. Teens and adults drink at fashionable parties.
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At the center are star-crossed lovers who only sneak in a couple of guilty kisses. The uprising of a slave population, naturally, includes some pretty bloody moments. Readers will learn a bit about battle strategy -- both main characters are quite good at it -- and have a chance to ponder the brutality of war and slavery and what freedom is worth. Add your rating.
Add your rating See all 4 kid reviews. Kestrel didn't know what possessed her to buy a slave when she and her best friend Jess ended up at the market by mistake. Something about the defiant look in his eyes drew her in.
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She takes him back to the estate she shares with her father, a general in the Valoran army. At first, the man is given work as a blacksmith, but it's not long before Kestrel selects him as an escort into town one day and into society on another. As she gets to know him, she finally discovers his real name -- Arin -- and that he's a master of a parlor strategy game she used to always win; she has finally met her match. Suddenly the two are grist for the rumor mill, only made worse when Kestrel defends Arin against a stealing charge at a society party.
But Arin doesn't want her to defend him. He knows that once Kestrel discovers his secret plans against those who enslave him -- her people -- she'll regret anything she ever felt for him. Despite a couple of society balls and some star-crossed lovers, this book gets quite cerebral. Arin and Kestrel's relationship builds carefully and is pretty complex, especially as the power dynamic shifts.
How Arin manages to break slave rules and enjoy parlor games with Kestrel seems a bit odd, but that's usually when Kestrel lets her guard down the most, pushing the story forward. Most writers would have enough on their plates just keeping Kestrel and Arin's slow-simmering relationship this full of tension. Rutkoski, however, keeps the political intrigue high at the same time.
The building tension between Arin and the leader of the rebellion adds quite a bit to the last third of The Winner's Curse.
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And the last few pages will make reading the sequel pretty irresistible. What does it mean? What does it have to do with the main characters? What other pairs in literature fit the definition? A cautionary tale for our times: the rise and fall of the American Dream. In , the Italian playwright Stefano Massini turned this exemplum into The Lehman Trilogy , an epic five-hour play that was adapted and condensed last year by the director Sam Mendes and playwright Ben Power for the National Theatre in London.
He changed his name to Henry and worked as an itinerant peddler before opening a small dry-goods store upriver, in Montgomery. Soon, two of his younger brothers, Mendel Emanuel and Mayer, joined him, and the dry goods store gradually evolved, first into a brokerage, and then into a bank. The elision is not sinister, but it is symptomatic.
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No one involved in editing the playbills is defending or apologizing for slavery; they were doing their jobs, putting together a program of necessarily brief essays about the play as it has been produced, which does not address slavery. That erasure is, ironically enough, perhaps the most allegorical aspect of the entire story: a history of American capitalism that disavows the central role slavery played in that history.
It was a problem several American reviewers noted, at least in part. For a century and more, the conventional wisdom about the evolution of the financial systems embodied in institutions like Lehman Brothers was that modern American capitalism was built not on the slave economy, but on its collapse. That story retains its cultural grip. Cohen, and others have contended that mid-century Southern slavery was far from the pre-industrial, agrarian economy of popular wisdom, inevitably defeated by the industrial power and modern financial systems of the North.
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The two systems were considerably more interdependent and mutually advantageous than that simplistic picture allows. Nor was the Civil War the product of a simple conflict between modern and premodern economies, although it was a conflict between wage labor and slave labor. Rather, between and , the slave economy itself became increasingly modernized, its growing profits leveraged by the economies of scale afforded by new financial systems.
The profits created by the cotton business helped fund vast empires of trade and industry, including shipping and railroads. They also enriched middlemen: insurers, brokers, investors, and speculators, which is where the Lehmans enter the story. Henry Lehman came from a farming family, perhaps one reason he chose to settle in the agrarian South; but he also grew up near the city of Mainz, a center of the German textile trade.
He knew the value of cotton, and went straight to Mobile, Alabama, then second only to New Orleans as a cotton trading port. The American economy of the s and s was undergoing a transformation thanks to the development of new debt instruments secured by the use of slaves as collateral. The value of chattel slaves could be transferred into mortgages, securities, and bonds, like any other financial asset that could then be sold to investors nationally and internationally. The financialization of slave-assets thus allowed profiting from slavery even in places that had formally outlawed the slave trade—as had the United States, in The complex, sophisticated commercial systems that had developed along with colonial slave economies did not die when the slave trade was abolished; they merely operated from a greater distance.
Between and , banks failed, credit disappeared, and the economy stagnated. The American economy of the s and s was undergoing a transformation thanks to the development of new debt instruments secured by the use of slaves as collateral. The value of chattel slaves could be transferred into mortgages, securities, and bonds, like any other financial asset that could then be sold to investors nationally and internationally.
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The financialization of slave-assets thus allowed profiting from slavery even in places that had formally outlawed the slave trade—as had the United States, in The complex, sophisticated commercial systems that had developed along with colonial slave economies did not die when the slave trade was abolished; they merely operated from a greater distance.
Between and , banks failed, credit disappeared, and the economy stagnated. Cotton factors sold to farmers on credit, often accepting cotton as payment, which they could sell directly to Northern manufacturers. Some cotton factors, in turn, acquired financing from Northern banks, recycling profits from the Southern slave system back to those Northern and international financiers. Every link in the financial chain profited. Between and , the American cotton crop expanded hugely for several reasons, including improvements in seeds, while the industrial revolution, powered by immigrant labor, was taking hold in the North.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, much of the American economy was entangled in networks of capital that were profiting from enslaved people.
The prosperity created by enslavement extended far beyond cotton, as world capital markets leveraged the collateral held by enslavers; but so did the financial and commercial structures those markets helped develop and perfect. When, in , descendants of slaves sued Lehman Brothers and other firms, including R. Two years later, J. Morgan acknowledged that it had accepted some 13, slaves as collateral, and taken possession of 1, more as capital.
Morgan Chase. In partial mitigation, Flade remarked that people living in antebellum Alabama could not easily oppose slavery, which is quite true. The Lehman brothers did both. Not only a low bar for moral exculpation, this also avoids any account of the complex reasons freed slaves sometimes chose to stay with families that had formerly held them in bondage. The question of how to include slaves in the American record has plagued the nation since its founding. This construction does not, in fact, grant slaves any humanity, even fractionally; it merely counts a proportion of them as bodies for the census.
As the size of both slave and immigrant populations grew, so did problems in census-taking. But even this inadequate record is vexed, implying, as it does, that slaves knew their ages when the system was designed to keep them from all such sense of self-possession. The historical ironies are intense: the slave schedules reflect a society struggling to identify Americans from whom it had systematically stripped identity, while granting new immigrants like the Lehman brothers the status of free citizens.
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