Slavery in the Roman World – Sandra R. Joshel

In order to better understand the history of slavery that I will be teaching from 1450, I decided to read this book on Roman slavery both to inform myself historically and to learn more about a system that is often compared to American chattel slavery as being more humane. This book is the perfect read for an undergraduate or armchair historian looking to learn about the basic ins and outs of Roman slavery. It is written simply though with important detail, and Joshel is always forthcoming about the shortcomings of her sources and when she is presenting speculation. This honesty is a valuable tool to both the beginning and advanced scholar, as it demonstrates the importance of reading against the grain. My one qualm is that Joshel did not place Roman slavery in the context of a more inter-regional or global slave system. It would have been nice to learn more about where these slaves came from. Otherwise a neat little read that demonstrates strong scholarship and a brief but rich understanding of the subject matter.

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