Forever Free by Eric Foner
The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction

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From one of our most distinguished historians, a new examination of the vitally important years of Emancipation and Reconstruction during and immediately following the Civil War–a necessary reconsideration that emphasizes the era’s political and cultural meaning for today’s America.

In Forever Free, Eric Foner overturns numerous assumptions growing out of the traditional understanding of the period, which is based almost exclusively on white sources and shaped by (often unconscious) racism. He presents the period as a time of determination, especially on the part of recently emancipated black Americans, to put into effect the principles of equal rights and citizenship for all.

Drawing on a wide range of long-neglected documents, he places a new emphasis on the centrality of the black experience to an understanding of the era. We see African Americans as active agents in overthrowing slavery, in helping win the Civil War, and–even more actively–in shaping Reconstruction and creating a legacy long obscured and misunderstood. Foner makes clear how, by war’s end, freed slaves in the South built on networks of church and family in order to exercise their right of suffrage as well as gain access to education, land, and employment.

He shows us that the birth of the Ku Klux Klan and renewed acts of racial violence were retaliation for the progress made by blacks soon after the war. He refutes lingering misconceptions about Reconstruction, including the attribution of its ills to corrupt African American politicians and “carpetbaggers,” and connects it to the movements for civil rights and racial justice.

Joshua Brown’s illustrated commentary on the era’s graphic art and photographs complements the narrative. He offers a unique portrait of how Americans envisioned their world and time.

Forever Free is an essential contribution to our understanding of the events that fundamentally reshaped American life after the Civil War–a persuasive reading of history that transforms our sense of the era from a time of failure and despair to a threshold of hope and achievement.

About Eric Foner

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Eric Foner is the pre-eminent historian of his generation. Foner is highly respected by historians of every stripe-whether they specialize in political history or social history. His books have won the top awards in the profession, and he has been president of both major history organizations-the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. He has worked on every detail of Give Me Liberty!, which displays all of his trademark strengths as a scholar, teacher, and writer. A specialist on the Civil War/Reconstruction period, Foner regularly teaches the 19th century survey at Columbia University, where he is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History. His latest trade title, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, won numerous awards including the Lincoln Prize, Bancroft Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.
Published June 26, 2013 by Vintage. 304 pages
Genres: History, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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But labor unrest made Northerners more sympathetic to white Southerners’ objections to Reconstruction, and the Republicans grew increasingly reluctant to use federal troops to protect African-Americans from what Foner calls “domestic terrorism” perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan and other groups.

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The New York Times

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When the Civil War ended, Eric Foner argues, the real battle was just beginning.

Jan 29 2006 | Read Full Review of Forever Free: The Story of Em...

Publishers Weekly

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Probably no period in American history is as controversial, as distorted by myth and as "essentially unknown" as the era of emancipation and Reconstruction, award-winning historian Foner (<

Sep 19 2005 | Read Full Review of Forever Free: The Story of Em...

Daily Kos

In honor of Black History Month I post a few Black History diaries, every year.

Feb 06 2008 | Read Full Review of Forever Free: The Story of Em...

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