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Publisher's Summary

The era known as Reconstruction is one of the unhappiest times in American history. It succeeded in reuniting the nation politically after the Civil War but in little else. Conflict shifted from the battlefield to the Capitol as Congress warred with President Andrew Johnson over just what to do with the South. Johnson's plan of Presidential Reconstruction, which was sympathetic to the former Confederacy, would ultimately lead to his impeachment and the institution of Radical Reconstruction.   

While Reconstruction saw the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments, expanding the rights and suffrage of African Americans, it largely failed to chart a progressive course for race relations after the abolition of slavery and the rise of Jim Crow. It also struggled to manage the Southern resistance towards a Northern free-labor economy. However, these failures cannot obscure a number of accomplishments with long-term consequences for American life, among them the Civil Rights Act, the election of the first African American representatives to Congress, and the avoidance of renewed civil war. Reconstruction suffered from poor leadership and uncertainty of direction, but it also laid the groundwork for renewed struggles for racial equality during the civil rights movement.

©2018 Oxford University Press (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Reconstruction

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Very Well Done

I really enjoyed this book. It was quick and easy to read/listen to. I hope that everyone interested in the era reads it. I really like the thesis of describing Reconstruction as a conflict between middle class northern culture and a white southern aristocratic backlash to that bourgeois revolution. I am interested in the free labor ideology in the north and Guelzo showed how that impacted Reconstruction. Guelzo artfully presents a balanced view about the successes and failures of the era as well. Great work Dr. Guelzo.

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Concise but Thorough

This title is true to its name, and is a concise but thorough and balanced overview of Reconstruction. I listened in one afternoon. It was helpful in providing enough highlights so I could identify people or topics I'd like to learn more about in depth.

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short but excellent

Guelzo is an excellent historian who relates history with humor. This is a good overview for people with little familiarity with this era. I love Guelzo's Union and civil rights perspectives and try to download as much of his work as possible. The narration was satisfactory, but Guelzo's own narration is even better.