Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy

by Eric Foner

From the publisher:
Nothing But Freedom examines the aftermath of emancipation in the South and the restructuring of society by which the former slaves gained, beyond their freedom, a new relation to the land they worked on, to the men they worked for, and to the government they lived under.

Taking a comparative approach, Eric Foner examines Reconstruction in the southern states against the experience of Haiti, where a violent slave revolt was followed by the establishment of a undemocratic government and the imposition of a system of forced labor; the British Caribbean, where the colonial government oversaw an orderly transition from slavery to the creation of an almost totally dependent work force; and early twentieth-century southern and eastern Africa, where a self-sufficient peasantry was dispossessed in order to create a dependent black work force.

Measuring the progress of freedmen in the post-Civil War South against that of freedmen in other recently emancipated societies, Foner reveals Reconstruction to have been, despite its failings, a unique and dramatic experiment in interracial democracy in the aftermath of slavery. Steven Hahn's timely new foreword places Foner's analysis in the context of recent scholarship and assesses its enduring impact in the twenty-first century.

"Nothing But Freedom explodes conventional wisdom and exemplifies how we might better understand class conflict in American history."—Village Voice Literary Supplement

"Elegant and tightly argued. . . . Along the way, Foner provides us with fascinating insights into the relatively neglected debates over fencing laws and hunting and fishing rights in the post-emancipation South, and into the solidarity of the low-country black community."—Times Literary Supplement "Foner's main concern is to delineate the ways in which the newly emancipated slaves endeavored to buttress the formal freedom they had attained with the substance of political and economic power. He brings to this task both a sophisticated conceptual framework rooted in class analysis and a meticulous respect for the complexity, integrity, and independence of the past."—The Nation

"This enlightening study exposes the roots of slavery in economics and human greed." — Publishers Weekly

"Nothing But Freedom is a convincingly argued, well-researched essay that should command the attention of all students of the nineteenth-century South." — Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Erudite yet readable, concise yet profound, Nothing But Freedom offers something to satisfy every reader's interests." — Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

"Compact and smartly conceptualized study." — American Historical Review

"Foner covers this complicated story well on all levels in all locales." — Kirkus Reviews

"Foner's thorough command of sources, his lucid prose, and his expertise in American political and labor ideology combine here to demonstrate the intimate connection between the economy and the polity during Reconstruction."—North Carolina Historical Review

Eric Foner is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University and the author of Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, winner of numerous awards including the Bancroft Prize, and many other books. He serves on the editorial boards of Past and Present and The Nation and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, London Review of Books, among other publications.

From CWBN:
The exact day of release for this September title is unknown.