Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation And Reconstruction

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Vintage Books, 2006 - History - 268 pages
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This book presents a new examination of the vitally important years of Emancipation and Reconstruction during and immediately following the Civil War - a necessary reconsideration that emphasizes the era's political and cultural meaning for today's America. In 'Forever free', Eric Foner overturns numerous assumptions growing out of the traditional understanding of the period, which is based almost exclusively on white sources and shaped by (often unconscious) racism. He presents the period as a time of determination, especially on the part of recently emancipated black Americans, to put into effect the principles of equal rights and citizenship for all. Drawing on a wide range of long-neglected documents, he places a new emphasis on the centrality of the black experience to an understanding of the era. We see African Americans as active agents in overthrowing slavery, in helping win the Civil War, and-even more actively-in shaping Reconstruction and creating a legacy long obscured and misunderstood. Foner makes clear how, by war's end, freed slaves in the South built on networks of church and family in order to exercise their right of suffrage as well as gain access to education, land, and employment. He shows us that the birth of the Ku Klux Klan and renewed acts of racial violence were retaliation for the progress made by blacks soon after the war. He refutes lingering misconceptions about Reconstruction, including the attribution of its ills to corrupt African American politicians and 'carpetbaggers', and connects it to the movements for civil rights and racial justice. Joshua Brown's illustrated commentary on the era's graphic art and photographs complements the narrative. He offers a portrait of how Americans envisioned their world and time.
 

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User Review  - nbmars - LibraryThing

Eric Foner begins this excellent short elaboration of his earlier book (Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877) with the observation that, in spite of the biblical proportions of ... Read full review

Contents

The Peculiar Institution
34
Tze Meanings ofFreedom
101
CHAPTER FIVE T be Tocsin ofFreeaom
128
The Facts ofReconstruction 5
181
The Unfinished Revolution
227

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About the author (2006)

Eric Foner is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. His special area of study has been the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and 19th-century America. Among his dozen books is Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, widely considered to be the definitive work on Reconstruction, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for History, the Bancroft Prize, and the Parkman Prize, among other honors. He served as president of the American Historical Association in 2000 and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1989. He reviews books frequently for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Joshua Brown is executive director of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of Beyond the Lies, a book on gilded-age America, and co-author of the interactive CD-ROMS and groundbreaking textbook (1990, 2000) Who Built America? He is also the coexecutive producer of the noted Web projects "History Matters" and "The September 11 Digital Archive."

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