Ward seems to be claiming credit for being the first to tell this story and use these sources, but Leon Litwack told much the same story in his 1980 Pulitzer Prize-winning _Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery_. Historians have been using the WPA slave narratives to examine slaves' lives since the 1970s. What is really new here?
Please see my comment to the first review of this book (June 25th)--however, Ward isn't claiming credit for being the first to bring these interviews to light. As I noted, scholars have been cognizant and indeed used them for years.
I just finished the audio version of this magnificent book and concluded it to be one of the best histories of the Civil War I have read. I am a Civil War reenactor and historian (albeit an amateur), and never has there been a retelling of that war like this. The major difference between this and "Been in the Storm Too Long" is basic. One is of the the effects of slavery in the war's aftermath, the other is a history of the Civil War, told first-hand by slaves. Its organization is chronological, geographical and by subject. It is both powerul and beautiful, and has done more to bring to life these forgotten people than anything I have ever read. This writer has done a splendid job. Richard Allen's reading of this book breathes life into these people's stories and I could not wait to drive to work so I could continue listening. My only complaint is it would have been nice if Allen had discovered (not hard to find) the melodies of these songs, but he does a darn good job winging it. Being a grandson of a Confederate soldier I was both humbled and honored to listen to this book. and I thank both the author and reader very much.