The central theme of the book is that black Americans are fundamentally no different from any other people. Indeed, their history reflects a pattern ... Show synopsis The central theme of the book is that black Americans are fundamentally no different from any other people. Indeed, their history reflects a pattern of economic development which is quite consistent with the changing social-economic fortunes of all peoples throughout human history. Moreover, during the last five and a half centuries those people who are now identified as black Americans have played a most decisive role in the origins of capitalism as well as the rate and geographic extent of its development in the world. The dominant factor in their history to date has been the exploitation of their labors by an alien people under three distinct historical modes of social-economic organization--slavery, sharecropping, and wage laboring. During the interval of real time during which blacks experienced each of these three historical epochs, members of the general American working class were exploited under a different form of political economy. Thus, it has come to appear that there is some inherent "racial" character which sets black Americans apart from non-black workers in the American social setting.