Books: Unexpiated Guilt

BLACK CARGOES (306 pp.)—Daniel P. Mannix with Malcolm Cowley—Viking ($6.95).

There were two schools of loading. The "loose packers" held that more slaves survived in a ship's hold if they had enough room to lie on their backs. The "tight packers" insisted slaves should be jammed in "spoon fashion" on their sides because, even if a few more died that way, the extra bodies a ship could carry more than made up the loss.

For a slave-ship captain, how to pack the cargo was but one of many vexatious commercial calculations. Another was whether to throw ailing slaves overboard or not. If they...

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