Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880

by W. E. Burghardt du Bois

Other authorsDavid Levering Lewis (Introduction)
Paperback, 1998


After four centuries of bondage, the nineteenth century marked the long-awaited release of millions of black slaves. Subsequently, these former slaves attempted to reconstruct the basis of American democracy. W. E. B. Du Bois, one of the greatest intellectual leaders in United States history, evaluates the twenty years of fateful history that followed the Civil War, with special reference to the efforts and experiences of African Americans. Du Bois's words best indicate the broader parameters of his work: "the attitude of any person toward this book will be distinctly influenced by his theories of the Negro race. If he believes that the Negro in America and in general is an average and ordinary human being, who under given environment develops like other human beings, then he will read this story and judge it by the facts adduced." The plight of the white working class throughout the world is directly traceable to American slavery, on which modern commerce and industry was founded, Du Bois argues. Moreover, the resulting color caste was adopted, forwarded, and approved by white labor, and resulted in the subordination of colored labor throughout the world. As a result, the majority of the world's laborers became part of a system of industry that destroyed democracy and led to World War I and the Great Depression. This book tells that story.… (more)



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Free Press (1999), Edition: 12.2.1997, 768 pages

User reviews

LibraryThing member DavidAPino
Arguably one of the best books ever written on the subject of Reconstruction. W.E.B. Du Bois offers an effective retort against the racist historiography of the Dunning School by offering his own historical and economic analysis. He argues that white supremacy undermined the liberating project of
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Reconstruction in the American South. Essentially, corrupt White supremacist politicians and organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan eroded the freedoms of Black folks through terrorist violence and Jim Crow Laws. In addition, they also created more tension between black and white members of the working class, thus eliminating any possibility of multiracial class solidarity. It is a lengthy book on an equally long subject.

If you are a scholar of the American South, the Civil War, or Reconstruction, you have to get this book.
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LibraryThing member JamesBeach
From the first sentence to the final paragraph, this book is a forceful, authoritative and masterful history of Black Reconstruction. It is the author's masterpiece. Every undergrad in history should read it; every grad student should read it and write about it. It is indispensable to an
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understanding of U.S. history.
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