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W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Reconstruction (slipcased edition)

Not yet published. Books are expected to arrive in October.

Arriving in October

Upon its publication in 1935, W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction offered a radical new assessment of the post–Civil War era, a time when African American progress was met with a white supremacist backlash and, ultimately, the unjust social order of Jim Crow. Previously cast as a misguided, even villainous effort to impose an inverted and “unnatural” racial hierarchy on the defeated South, Reconstruction was for Du Bois nothing less than a milestone in the course of human history, “the finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which this world had ever seen.”

Du Bois identified the problem in the work of the dominant historians of his day: “the chief witness in Reconstruction, the emancipated slave himself, has been almost barred from court. His written Reconstruction record has been largely destroyed and nearly always neglected.” In setting the record straight, Du Bois produced what co-editor Eric Foner has called an “indispensable book . . . one of the landmarks of U.S. historical scholarship.”

A sweeping, magisterial work of rigorous analysis written with precision and powerful eloquence, Black Reconstruction restores slavery to the core of American history, emphasizing its crucial importance to the nation as a whole and exposing the underlying economic engines of the Civil War and its aftermath. It makes clear that the formerly enslaved, as they claimed first their freedom and then their citizenship, were pivotal actors in this second American revolution, as soldiers and emancipators, workers and legislators.

Presented here in an authoritative, annotated edition, Black Reconstruction is joined for the first time with important writings that trace the evolution of Du Bois’s thinking about Reconstruction and its centrality in understanding the embattled course of democracy in America.

Eric Foner is the author of many award-winning books on the Civil War and Reconstruction, including The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution. He is DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous books, including Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow, and has produced, written, and hosted an array of documentary films for public television, including Finding Your Roots and The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

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