Herman Melville called them “whale-lines,” and he thought that they could hook nations as well as people.
Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World
I’m glad I was able to get through the epilogue before returning this one to the library — the final paragraph (above) is a doozy, just like the rest of the book. Highly recommended.
I couldn’t help but connect the “invisible traps” to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ongoing writing on reparations (and his inspirations here, here, and here). This particular book was recommended by Cory Robin at Crooked Timber — he also recommends (and in fact apparently set Grandin on the path of reading) the “source text,” Melville’s Benito Cereno. This book, among other things, has provided my strongest impetus yet to really grapple with Melville, whom I’ve casually avoided. (The historical context for “the sperm chapter” alone had me interested to revisit Moby-Dick after a few failed attempts, but Cereno will come first, I think.)