• The Second Founding

  • How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution
  • By: Eric Foner
  • Narrated by: Donald Corren
  • Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (149 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $20.99

Buy for $20.99

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation's foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time. 

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States. 

Eric Foner's compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre-Civil War mass meetings of African-American "colored citizens" and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late 19th century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. 

Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.

©2019 Eric Foner (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Second Founding

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    129
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    109
  • 4 Stars
    17
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    110
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book - problematic narrator

I admit to being disappointed that Professor Foner was not reading his book in his distinctive and familiar voice, but determined to give this narrator a try. After he has mispronounced Chief Justice Taney’s name four times within the first hour of the narration, however, I am distracted and disappointed. Audible, if you won’t let historians read their own work, make sure the narrators are knowledgeable about the period, please!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A vital work

Don't read this book because future generations will remember it as a foundation for a revitalized "textualist" constitutional jurisprudence. Though I'm sure that's true, read it because it's both entertaining and useful for anyone with an interest in US history.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Essential Reading in 2020

The legacy and impact of slavery and Jim Crow have cast a long shadow and Eric Foner gives us an in-depth and insightful look at the 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very relevant in our age of voter suppression

Clearly presents the complex story of how the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments came to be and how they ultimately failed to protect black rights and freedoms during the Jim Crow era.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book.

A copy should be mailed to every supreme court justice. Short but powerful interpretation of these consequential amendments.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Eye opening

Learned how much the 13th 14th and 15th amendments changed US government; how the potential of amendments was restricted by the Supreme Court; what happened during Reconstruction; and about the depths of racism in American history..

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent History

Stuff I never learned in school. Finally understand how deeply rooted institutional racism is in this country and how few people in the government have been willing to take a principled stand to work and fight to end it over the past 150 years. Recommend this book for anybody who wants to understand how our past affects us now.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful book

The Second Founding is a great book. I, like most Americans, had little knowledge of the reconstruction amendments and how they were subverted by southern state governments and the Supreme Court. The history of how these amendments were essentially nullified is tragic and disturbing. Every American should read this book and join the struggle to ensure that every American enjoy equal treatment, equal protection, and equal rights granted by the Constitution.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A good account of the reconstruction amendments.

This book is a concise commentary of the Reconstruction amendments to the US Constitution and provides an interesting summary of how we continue to struggle to define citizenship in this country. Thoughtful and articulate. A worthwhile book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Highly recommended

This is a valuable read for better understanding of history and the present. Anyone who reads civil war history will know of the 13,14 and 15th amendments. But this book brings their meaning to life.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for mr t a graham
  • mr t a graham
  • 07-11-20

Such a timely read

One of the USA's best historians gives a consise and clear understanding of reconstruction and the constitutional ammendments that are in debate today with the BLM movement. The author sets out reconstructions positives and negatives really well. Read really well.