The Book of Training by Colonel Hap Thompson of Roanoke, Va, 1843: Annotated from the Library of John C. Calhoun

Percival Everett (Author)


Percival Everett's The Book of Training by Colonel Hap Thompson of Roanoke, VA, 1843, Annotated From the Library of John C. Calhoun, is poetry within the harsh confines of a mock historical document--a guidebook for the American slave owner. The collection features lists of instructions for buying, training, and punishing, equations for calculating present and future profits, and handwritten annotations affirming the brutal contents. The Book of Training lays bare the mechanics of the peculiar institution of slavery and challenges readers to place themselves in the uncomfortable vantage point of those who have bought and enslaved human beings.

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Red Hen Press
Publish Date
January 15, 2019
5.9 X 0.3 X 8.2 inches | 0.3 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Percival Everett is the author of more than twenty books. He is the recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction. He teaches at the University of Southern California and lives outside Los Angeles.


"It's not surprising that So Much Blue is such a perfectly structured novel; Everett is an author who started his career off strong and just keeps getting better. It's a generous, thrilling book by a man who might well be America's most under-recognized literary master, and readers will be thinking about it long after the last page. As Kevin observes at one point: 'Like most things that come back to haunt you, it haunted me in the beginning. No ghost is born overnight.'"--Michael Shaub, NPR Book Review
This is truly the most terrifying book I've read this year. The training manual imitates the teachings of a slave master, one Colonel Hap Thompson, who, for the sake of rearing good slaves, gives methodical/technical lessons in their handling -- yes, "handling" is a term used for training animals. What's most chilling is the academic presentation, as if in good faith, teaching dehumanizing, the lowest form of human conduct. This account, were it presented any other way, would be intolerable. But Everett strikes a resonant chord by using the elevated and refined language of an educated "trainer." The power is in actual reckonings -- brute force so that individuals become subhuman; and if they do not comply, subjecting them to dehumanization again and again. It's torture dignified by logic, philosophical beliefs, and white man's rhetoric.