Monday, February 11, 2008

The Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Reader

by Stanley Harrold

From the publisher:
This volume deals with two momentous and interrelated events in American history. The American Civil War is the country's largest and most significant war, as northern victory created national sovereignty and ended legal slavery. Reconstruction, although intricately linked to the Civil War, has a more complicated and darker legacy. During this era, the U.S. government undertook a limited effort in behalf of black citizenship, and--faced with violent resistance from white southerners--abandoned the effort. Emancipated and enfranchised after the Civil War, African Americans contributed to the economic, social, and political Reconstruction of the South only to see their efforts come to an end due to southern white resistance and northern indifference.

This reader provides students with a collection of more than sixty essential documentary sources for these periods, including presidential addresses, official reports, songs and poems, and a variety of eyewitness testimony concerning significant (and often dramatic) events. Contextualizing headnotes explain the importance of each document.

Harrold's introduction includes an explanation of how historians analyze, contextualize, and interpret a variety of primary sources related to the Civil War and Reconstruction, allowing students to acquire a better understanding of the raw materials with which historians create narratives of the past, and making this volume a valuable supplement to a variety of courses.