Edward Baptist pays close attention to slavery as a powerful and evolving barbarism that increasingly sucked the economy, geographical expansion, and politics of the United States within its singular project. The Jacksonian geopolitical expansion into the south and southwestern United States provided vast new areas for slavery’s expansion. But Baptist argues this was a “new, second slavery” based on a brutal labor regime that increased productivity and brutalized its African victims. This new slavery was abetted by a financial system almost as out of control as our current one, as Wall Street financiers and the US banking system grew fat on the forced labor of slaves. Owning bodies of slaves was collateral for credit that further intensified the slave system. As slavery grew it threatened the whole country, forcing a series of political confrontations that ended with the US Civil War. Baptist punctures many illusions -- of a dead archaic system of slavery, of a benign slavocracy, of an innocent North which was not complicit in slavery's brutality.