Cover image for They came in chains : the story of the slave ships
They came in chains : the story of the slave ships
Meltzer, Milton, 1915-2009.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Benchmark Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
96 pages : illustrations, map ; 26 cm.
Describes the history and practice of slavery, particularly the African slave trade--its origins, growth, and demise from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries.
Reading Level:
1170 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 8.1 2.0 2750.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 10 5 Quiz: 18234 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E446 .M48 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E446 .M48 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E446 .M48 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Among the authors of this highly acclaimed series are Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner Milton Meltzer, Coretta Scott King Award winner James Haskins and noted author Raymond Bial. The series itself focuses on major population shifts in America and the driving forces behind them. The authors' vivid accounts are given additional immediacy with the inclusion of excerpts from diaries, newspaper articles and letters.

Author Notes

Historian Milton Meltzer was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1915. He attended Columbia University, but had to leave during his senior year because of the Great Depression. He got a job writing for the WPA Federal Theater Project. During World War II, he served as an air traffic controller in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he worked as a writer for CBS radio and in public relations for Pfizer.

In 1956, he published his first book A Pictorial History of the Negro American, which was co-written by Langston Hughes. They also collaborated on Langston Hughes: A Biography, which was published in 1968 and received the Carter G. Woodson award. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 110 books for young people including Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? about the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression; Never to Forget about the Holocaust; and There Comes a Time about the Civil Rights movement. He also addressed such topics as crime, ancient Egypt, the immigrant experience, labor movements, photography, piracy, poverty, racism, and slavery. He wrote numerous biographies including ones on Mary McLeod Bethune, Lydia Maria Child, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Sanger, and Henry David Thoreau. He received the 2000 Regina Medal and the 2001 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his body of work and his lasting contribution to children's literature. He died of esophageal cancer on September 19, 2009 at the age of 94.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. Books in the Great Journeys series highlight great migrations in U.S. history. In accessible formats, they combine clear, engaging text, primary source material, boxed insets, strong images and photographs, and even songs to tell nonsensationalized stories of displacement and devastation. Meltzer uses gripping exerpts and his trademark fine prose to present the history of the slave trade and the Dust Bowl. In They Came in Chains, he places slavery in its global and historical context, using subsequent chapters to convey the horrors of the Middle Passage and life in the Americas. In Driven from the Land, he first discusses the causes of the Great Depression, then travels through the decade's poverty and loss, ending with the New Deal and World War II. Well-reproduced photographs by Dorothea Lange and others of the time greatly enhance the text. The lack of documentation in the books is frustrating, but each volume has an excellent bibliography and a list of further readings to complete its powerful, evenhanded overview. See the Series Roundup in this issue for two more titles in this excellent series. --Gillian Engberg

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-These titles powerfully illustrate the origins of the African-American experience. Darkness delivers a compelling account of the "Great Migration" from the South to the North, which, in turn, gave birth to the Harlem Renaissance. The journeys of two individuals alive at this time-entertainer Bricktop Smith, who moved from West Virginia to Chicago in her youth, and Joe Jones, who left Charleston for New York City after World War I-are interwoven to personalize the text. Black-and-white photos and quotes greatly enhance the narrative, though their actual placement occasionally interrupts the chronicle's flow. Chains follows the history of African Americans from their capture in Africa to emancipation after the Civil War. Firsthand accounts, black-and-white photos and reproductions, and excerpts from newspapers and speeches dramatically convey the horrors of slavery. The author leaves no doubt that its effects linger today. "The failure of the Founding Fathers [to declare slavery illegal] left a moral legacy that has done harm to the generations that have come after." Both of these thorough, passionate titles will be valuable for reports.-Laura Glaser, Euless Junior High School, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.