Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The triumph of the Union Army and the freeing of the slaves after the Civil War are always complicated by the realities of Reconstruction, particularly the failure to protect freed African Americans and the eventual implementation of Jim Crow laws. University of Kentucky historian Summers (A Dangerous Stir) argues that although Reconstruction was a failure for former slaves, it was successful in propping up and reintroducing the federal system into the former Confederate states. His account is a reminder of how difficult this process was, noting how Southern constitutional delegates "did not welcome slavery's end," nor did they, like many others in the post-bellum South, "regret secession." Summers effectively captures the turmoil and frustrations of the era: the strange 1874 battle between candidates for Governor of Arkansas, the rise of white supremacist groups such as the "redeemers" and "White Leagues," and voter intimidation that successfully forced African Americans out of a meaningful role in government. He also shows how economic woes affected Reconstruction's prospects. An arrangement that preserved the Union but damned many to suffering, Summers demonstrates it best when discussing meetings of Union and Confederate veterans: "Reconciliation they welcomed-on their own terms." Illus. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.