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The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era Hardcover – January 21, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“The history of [the] era [of Reconstruction] has rarely if ever been as well told as it is in Douglas R. Egerton's forcefully argued and crisply written The Wars of Reconstruction. Mr. Egerton presents a sometimes inspiring but more often deeply shocking story that reveals the nation at its best and worst…Mr. Egerton's prose…is readable and compelling...He moves his narrative forward with a fine eye for the drama of events, offering a chorus of contemporary voices along the way: those of ex-slaves, war veterans, do-gooders, opportunists, educators, churchmen and politicians of every stripe, among them defenders of racial privilege. He includes as well ex-Confederates such as the politically courageous James Longstreet, Robert E. Lee's senior corps commander, who after the war became a Republican and embraced biracial reform, and Northern black crusaders such as Octavius Catto of Philadelphia, who helped make the assertion of civil rights a national cause. Collectively these figures, speaking to us amid Mr. Egerton's always acute presentation of the intricacies of federal and state politics, bring to life the war that was taking place not just in the halls of government but also deep in the small towns, red-dirt hamlets and cotton fields, where the bloodiest combat of Reconstruction took place.” ―Wall Street Journal

“The Wars of Reconstruction is one of the best and most readable studies of that era to appear in many years. Its emphasis on the active role that African Americans played in this crucial period is especially welcome. Douglas Egerton has given us another gripping, thoughtful, and deeply researched book about slavery and the fight for freedom.” ―Bruce Levin, author of The Fallof the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South

“This is a very "Du Boisian" work, sharing the great scholar's view that Reconstruction wasn't just about rebuilding the Southern economy, but reconstructing democracy throughout the US. Recounting Northern blacks' struggles for voting rights and the national quest for universal public education bolsters Du Bois's insight, as do sections assessing Reconstruction in scholarly and popular memory. Through detailed evaluations of officeholders and other activists, Egerton asserts that Reconstruction was the most progressive era in US history. Proponents of the 1960s and, especially, the New Deal may differ, but Egerton's strong case stimulates debate. Summing Up: Recommended.” ―CHOICE

“Key figures develop into rich characters, balancing Egerton's own objective, wide-seeing perspective, which even explores the revisionist Reconstruction histories that informed the American consciousness, particularly the pernicious effects of influential racist cinema. All told, Egerton's study is an adept exploration of a past era of monumental relevance to the present and is recommended for any student of political conflict, social upheaval, and the perennial struggle against oppression.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A richly detailed history…An illuminating view of an era whose reform spirit would live on in the1960scivil rights movement.” ―Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Douglas R. Egerton is Professor of History at LeMoyne College. He is the author of five books, including He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey, Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 & 1802, and Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.59 pounds
  • Hardcover : 448 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 160819566X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1608195664
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

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