The book, Reconstruction: America's unfinished revolution, 1863-1877, by Eric Foner, covers the history of reconstruction of America after the Civil War. Notably, the author is a Professor of History at Columbia University who focuses mainly on internal conflicts and slavery in America and major activities in 19th century. Moreover, in 2006, Foner received the presidential award for his role in teaching field, in particular, building proper history about civil activities. In his work, , Foner focuses on the racial American politics in which the states incorporate African-Americans into full equality. Furthermore, the author highlights reasons for the emergence and recurrence of racist acts.
Foner discusses broader themes which include remaking of the southern society, the establishment of the republican unionists, the agrarian commercialism, and the interaction of freedmen. Furthermore, the author analyses the interconnection between different classes of life and the race. To elaborate, Foner explains the roles of the freedmen who were mainly Blacks working as laborers in agrarian farms. In addition to showing how Civil War and reconstruction led to reduction in development of powerful states, Foner narrates how the activities of activist federal government affect the evolution of the reconstruction.
Notably, Foner attributes the laxity in development and reconstruction to emergence of economic changes in the Northern States. Changes in the Northern economy reintroduced class structure which eventually undermined reconstruction. The book has achieved the integration of monographs in economic, political, social and cultural history by blending the current issues and past events. The author outlines the dilemma facing the states and federal government in the contemporary society in implementing the rights of the Blacks and the minority.
The book contains information regarding major developments which took place in America. For instance, students can learn about the assassination of President Lincoln, a Republican who played a crucial role in ensuring the success of reconstruction and ending of slavery. Moreover, educators can gain knowledge about the horrible rule of President Andrew Johnson, the number of deaths caused by the Ku Klux Klan, and the White southerners who oppressed the Blacks. Notably, the blacks were prevented from voting and acquiring formal education.
However, scholars and historians have written different versions of the Civil War and the reconstruction period. As a result, learners and educators have misunderstood the concept of reconstruction, and are incapable of distinguishing the truth from the myth. For instance, the author states that goals for reconstruction are yet to be achieved while in reality, African Americans have had equal rights in the current American society. Moreover, the book does not explain the efforts of the US government in establishing adequate system that could protect and promote the progress of freedmen. Finally, Eric places the beginning of reconstructions two years earlier compared to other major historical books.
In summary, Reconstruction: America's unfinished revolution should be used in classes and other historical forums because it serves readers with better understanding of Civil War. Learner can as well compare the social development in the 20th century with the current human rights movements. In addition, the book educates students about the major events during reconstructions. Lastly, the book discusses the roles of freedmen during reconstruction and the rights of minority in American society.
Les Benedict, Michael. "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. By Eric Foner.(New York: Harper & Row, 1988. xxix+ 690 pp. $29.95.)." The Journal of American History 75, no. 4 (1989): 1336-1337.
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