Reconstruction Reconsidered

Reconstruction Reconsidered

RECONSTRUCTION: AMERICA’S UNFINISHED REVOLUTION, 1863-1877, by Eric Foner. New York: Harper and Row, 1988. 690 pp. $29.95.

Few periods of U.S. history have generated more debate than the Civil War era and its aftermath, what Eric Foner calls “America’s Unfinished Revolution.” And few periods have been subject to more intense investigation. The last two decades have seen the publication of numerous studies of the Reconstruction era, many of them models of the new history in their desire to give all participants— former slaves as well as former masters—a full hearing. They add to an already formidable literature, which has focused on the epic struggle between Abraham Lincoln, then on Andrew Johnson and the congressional Radicals in Washington and finally on carpetbaggers, scalawags, newly enfranchised blacks, and unreconstructed rebels in the

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