This masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history 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, highly influenced by W.E.B. DuBois' Black Reconstruction in America and emphasizing the centrality of labor management in Southern racial policy, 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.
Started reading this for
Started reading this for Black History Month. About halfway through, pretty good book so far. I'm a bit ashamed of not knowing this history. I think it was someone from the now defunct US group Bring the Ruckus who said that American leftists know more about the Spanish Civil War than the American Civil War/Reconstruction, when the latter is far more relevant to them.
There's a really valuable
There's a really valuable discussion by Noel Ignatiev about this book and W.E.B Du Bois's book about the Reconstruction period (Black Reconstruction) in a blog post on the site of PM Press. As it happens someone posted it on here too:
"Du Bois described the slaveholders not merely as a wealthy elite, but as owners of capital. If the slaveholders were capitalists, it followed that the laborers were proletarians. He expressed this notion throughout the book, beginning with the title of the first chapter, which he called not 'The Black Slave' but 'The Black Worker.' Foner identifies capitalism with the wage form. (...) He carefully avoids using the terms 'worker' or 'proletarian' to describe the slaves. To him they were - slaves."