Black Reconstruction in America by W. E. B. Du Bois, with an introduction by David Levering Lewis
Publication Date: New York: Oxford University Press, 2007; originally published New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1935
Black Reconstruction in America by W. E. B. Du Bois, is the now classic work in which Du Bois tells and interprets the story of the twenty years of Reconstruction from the point of view of newly liberated African Americans. Though lambasted by critics at the time of its publication in 1935, Black Reconstruction has only grown in historical and literary importance. In the 1960s it joined the canon of the most influential revisionist historical works. Its greatest achievement is weaving a credible, lyrical historical narrative of the hostile and politically fraught years of 1860-1880 with a powerful critical analysis of the harmful effects of democracy, including Jim Crow laws and other injustices. This edition includes an introduction by David Levering Lewis.
Reconstruction, Updated Edition by Eric Foner
Publication Date: New York Harper, 2014; originally published 1988.
From the "preeminent historian of Reconstruction" (New York Times Book Review), the prize-winning classic work on the post-Civil War period that shaped modern America. Eric Foner's "masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history" (New Republic) redefined how the post-Civil War period was viewed. Reconstruction chronicles the way in which Americans--black and white--responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. It addresses the ways in which the emancipated slaves' quest for economic autonomy and equal citizenship shaped the political agenda of Reconstruction; the remodeling of Southern society and the place of planters, merchants, and small farmers within it; the evolution of racial attitudes and patterns of race relations; and the emergence of a national state possessing vastly expanded authority and committed, for a time, to the principle of equal rights for all Americans.
Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates; Henry Louis Gates
Publication Date: New York: Penguin, 2019
One of the most violent periods in our history followed the retreat from Reconstruction, with thousands of African Americans murdered or lynched and many more afflicted by the degrading impositions of Jim Crow segregation. Enforcing a stark color line and ensuring the rollback of the rights of formerly enslaved people, racist images were reproduced on an unprecedented scale thanks to advances in technology. Yet, during the same period when the Supreme Court stamped 'separate but equal' as the law of the land, African Americans advanced the concept of the 'New Negro' to renew the fight for Reconstruction's promise. Against the steepest of odds, Gates charts how they waged war by other means: countering depictions of black people as ignorant, debased, and inhuman with images of a vanguard of educated and upstanding black women and men who were talented, cosmopolitan, and urbane.
Reconstruction (Interpreting American History) by John David Smith (Editor)
Publication Date: Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2016
Interpreting American History: Reconstruction provides a primer on the often-contentious historical literature on Reconstruction, the period in American history from 1865 to 1877. In topically arranged historiographical essays, eight historians focus on the changing interpretations of Reconstruction from the so-called Dunning School of the early twentieth century to the "revisionists" of the World War II era, the "postrevisionists" of the Vietnam era, and the most current "post-postrevisionists" writing on Reconstruction today. The essays treat the two main chronological periods of Reconstruction history, Presidential and Radical Reconstruction, and provide coverage of emancipation and race, national politics, intellectual life and historical memory, gender and labor, and Reconstruction's transnational history.
A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, from Slavery to the Great Migration by Steven Hahn
Publication Date: Cambridge: MA: Harvard University Press, 2003
This is the epic story of how African-Americans, in the six decades following slavery, transformed themselves into a political people--an embryonic black nation. As Steven Hahn demonstrates, rural African-Americans were central political actors in the great events of disunion, emancipation, and nation-building. At the same time, Hahn asks us to think in more expansive ways about the nature and boundaries of politics and political practice. Emphasizing the importance of kinship, labor, and networks of communication, A Nation under Our Feet explores the political relations and sensibilities that developed under slavery and shows how they set the stage for grassroots mobilization. Hahn introduces us to local leaders, and shows how political communities were built, defended, and rebuilt. He also identifies the quest for self-governance as an essential goal of black politics across the rural South, from contests for local power during Reconstruction, to emigrationism, biracial electoral alliances, social separatism, and, eventually, migration.