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Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War Hardcover – September 5, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Historians agree that Reconstruction was a conflict in which the good guys lost. Lemann (The Promised Land) hammers the point home with a grim account of post–Civil War Mississippi. His central figure is Adelbert Ames, a Union general and war hero who fought to preserve the Union, despised abolitionists and considered African-Americans an inferior race. Appointed provisional governor of postwar Mississippi, he was horrified at the violence that whites, a minority, used against blacks trying to vote. As military commander, he provided enough security to ensure a Republican victory in 1869 state elections (blacks voted Republican until the 1930s), became an advocate of civil rights and was elected senator in 1870 and governor in 1873. He worked hard to protect the freedmen but failed, and Lemann's description of the terror campaign against Mississippi blacks makes depressing reading. The book's title refers to the popular version of Reconstruction in which valiant Southern whites "redeemed" their states from corrupt carpetbaggers and ignorant freedmen. Agreeing with recent scholars who consider this another Civil War myth, Lemann delivers an engrossing but painful account of a disgraceful episode in American history. (Sept.)
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From The New Yorker
In July, 1874, A. K. Davis, the black lieutenant governor of Mississippi, wrote to President Grant that "armed bodies of men are parading the streets" of Vicksburg and the authorities are "utterly unable to protect the lives and property of the Citizens"by which he meant, primarily, black citizens. Vicksburg was the site of Grant's greatest victory; now, Lemann writes, "Vicksburg was, evidently, seceding all over again." Lemann's searing account of how Reconstruction was defeated points to what he calls a campaign of organized terrorism. Thousands of blacks were killed with impunity, as Southern whites gambled that Northerners would be less bothered by atrocities than by the redeployment of federal troops in the South. These Southerners also constructed the myth that they were "redeemers" and that Reconstruction collapsed of its own accord, and not in what was, as Lemann makes clear, a bloody regional fight over the rights of black citizens.
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I would have liked to have more details about reconstruction in other states, especially in such a readible narrative but mississippi is important because the strategies used here were replicated in other states. For this reason, I did not reduce the amount of stars. A top rate book for amateur historians. Those wanting a scientific academic treatment may be disappointed, but there are plenty of footnotes for you to continue investigation.