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Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 Ill Edition

90 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0060937164
ISBN-10: 0060937165
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With the Confederacy's defeat, Reconstruction seemed like the dawn of a new era to blacks and progressive whites, but it was not to be. "This invaluable, definitive history re-creates the post-Civil War period as a pivotal drama in which ordinary people get equal billing with politicians and wheelers and dealers," praised PW .
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

This "masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history" (New Republic) made history when it was originally published in 1988. It redefined how Reconstruction was viewed by historians and people everywhere in its chronicling of how Americans -- black and white -- responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. This "smart book of enormous strengths" (Boston Globe) has since gone on to become the classic work on the wrenching post-Civil War period -- an era whose legacy reverberates still today in the United States.

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Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Classics
  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Ill edition (February 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060937165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060937164
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. and Ph.D. In his teaching and scholarship, Foner focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and nineteenth-century America. His "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877," won the Bancroft, Parkman, and Los Angeles Times Book prizes and remains the standard history of the period. In 2006 Foner received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching at Columbia University. He has served as president of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Society of American Historians. He is currently writing a book on Lincoln and slavery.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 89 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on December 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a pleasant fiction held by many, even taught in high schools, that the Civil War was fought to free slaves and in fact did just that. Unfortunately, such a view is simplistic in the extreme. This book demolishes any such simplistic notions in its comprehensive examination of the incredible struggles of freedmen and their allies during the era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877, to achieve even a modicum of freedom, much of which had been yanked away by the end of the 19th century by the old Southern oligarchy. Despite the overall excellence of the book, the sheer volume of the information of this tumultuous time makes this book a challenging read. Economic, sociological, and political developments are examined from the intersecting parameters of individual states, multi-state farming regions, race, class, political parties, North vs. South, businessmen vs. farmers, etc.

One fact that this book makes evident is that Reconstruction was not one, well-thought program. In fact, Reconstruction lurched from one policy to the next, involving at various times the control of the Union army, the Freedman's Bureau, Presidential Reconstruction, Radical (Congressional) Reconstruction, policies of neglect, and finally Redemption. In addition, these multifarious programs and regimes of control were capriciously managed almost always to the detriment of freedmen, depending on the competencies and prejudices of administrators. Reconstruction, if nothing, is very complex - difficult to summarize.

The author details any number of pervasive factors that formed a backdrop to the entire period of Reconstruction. First, he notes a substantial divide between upcountry, small yeoman farmers and Blackbelt plantation owners.
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109 of 131 people found the following review helpful By John A. Cusey on August 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Eric Foner breaks no new ground with this book. The demolition of the traditional portrayal of Reconstruction as a period of unmitigated evil and injustice, where rapacious and corrupt Northerners joined with incompetent black Southerners to deny virtuous white Southerners of their rightful place in government, began as early as 1909; with a paper presented by WEB DuBois at Columbia University. The demolition was largely completed by Kenneth Stampp's 1965 book about Reconstruction, and it would be difficult to find a reputable scholar today who would disagree with the general premise of revisionist scholarship about Reconstruction: that while Reconstruction state governments and the Republican Congress were very much creatures of their time, they accomplished much that was good and noble, and that the criticisms of them by the Redeemers and their sympathizers in the academic community were frequently unjust and based on bald racial prejudice.
Instead of breaking new ground, Foner's book does an admirable job consolidating the revisionist consensus. With his emphasis on the role that the former slaves themselves played in Reconstruction, he emphatically rejects the notion, sometimes present even in revisionist scholarship, that somehow whites... were the only agents in Reconstruction. Likewise, he presents a nuanced portrayal of the Republican coalition in Congress that enacted the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875, the Reconstruction Acts, the Enforcement Acts, and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871: they were not monolithic Radicals, nor were the Radicals among them monolithic in their goals and ideals.
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114 of 141 people found the following review helpful By James Ferguson VINE VOICE on January 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
A major undertaking. Eric Foner and Leon Litwack (Been in the Storm so Long) have rescued Reconstruction from the dustbin of history. Each has offered a timely re-exploration into one of the most pivotal periods in American History. For Foner, Reconstruction represents the often forgotten conclusion to the Civil War, an attempt to address the social injustices that resulted from over two centuries of slavery. What is even more compelling about Foner's account is that he absorbs the early women's suffrage movement into this early battle for Civil Rights.
This remarkably well-researched book gives probably the most thorough examination of Reconstruction to date. Foner begins in 1863 with the emancipation proclamation, and carries the era through to 1877, when a fateful compromise was reached by Republicans and Democrats which led to the notorious period of Redemption, in which most of the gains during this period of time were nullified.
Foner covers a tremendous amount of ground. He has uncovered old court records and other valuable information, which demonstrate just how active a role Blacks had in Reconstruction. He notes the seminal work of W.E.B. DuBois (Black Reconstruction in America), which went largely ignored by the "Dunning School," which interpreted Reconstruction as an unmitigated failure in social improvement. Foner, like DuBois, notes how many beneficial social changes came as a result of Reconstruction such as public health, education and welfare.
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