Selected Titles on
Abolition and the American Civil War
In 1960 Harvard University Press published the first modern edition of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself. That edition, only recently superseded, was edited and featured an Introduction by Benjamin Quarles, a prolific and pioneering African American historian.
Quarles and HUP were reintroducing Frederick Douglass to a United States that was in the midst of its greatest racial reordering since Douglass’s own time. It’s instructive to revisit Quarles’s essay now, half a century after it was written, as we comemmorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. We’re pleased to make the full text available online.
“Bound in Wedlock is a groundbreaking history that challenges the belief that the crisis of black marital and familial relations can be traced directly to slavery. With a vast arsenal of archival evidence, Hunter illuminates the complex and flexible character of black intimacy and kinship and the precariousness of marriage in the context of racial and economic inequality. It is a brilliant book and one destined to invite vigorous debate.”—Saidiya Hartman, author of Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route
“Nathans turns the story of the Great Migration on its head in this extraordinary and wide-ranging history of the lives, labors, and land of black men and women who remained in the South. Deeply researched and written with passion, it is a brilliant and original accounting of how ‘landedness’ was achieved over two centuries of African American struggle.”—Ira Berlin, author of The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States
“Matthew Karp demonstrates vividly how Southern control of the national government in the antebellum generation resulted in a foreign policy designed to protect slavery from threats both outside and inside the United States. Full of new information and original insights, this book expands our understanding of the ways in which Southern domination of the federal government provoked increasing sectional tensions that brought on the Civil War.”—James M. McPherson, author of The War That Forged a Nation
Martin R. Delany’s Blake (c. 1860) tells the story of Henry Blake’s escape from a southern plantation and his travels in the U.S., Canada, Africa, and Cuba on a mission to unite blacks of the Atlantic region in the struggle for freedom. Jerome McGann’s edition offers the first correct printing of the work and an authoritative introduction.
“Ira Berlin ranks as one of the greatest living historians of slavery in the United States… The Long Emancipation offers a useful reminder that abolition was not the charitable work of respectable white people, or not mainly that. Instead, the demise of slavery was made possible by the constant discomfort inflicted on middle-class white society by black activists. And like the participants in today’s Black Lives Matter movement, Berlin has not forgotten that the history of slavery in the United States—especially the history of how slavery ended—is never far away when contemporary Americans debate whether their nation needs to change.”—Edward E. Baptist, The New York Times Book Review
2016 Margaret T. Lane / Virginia F. Saunders Memorial Research Award, Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association • Co-Winner, 2016 Humanities Book Award, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities • Honorable Mention, 2016 Deep South Book Prize, Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama • 2015 Jefferson Davis Award, American Civil War Museum • A Civil War Memory / Civil War Monitor Best Book of 2015
“The book’s major novelty is its focus on individual personal suffering as opposed to a typical slavery history which is concerned with the quantity of suffering… The informal and engaging tone succeeds in lending Beyond Freedom’s Reach an accessibility to introduce non-specialists to the field of study, whilst aptly adding a human touch to an emotional subject.”—Michael Warren, LSE Review of Books
2013 SHEAR Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic • Honorable Mention, 2014 Avery O. Craven Award, Organization of American Historians • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013
“The artistry of River of Dark Dreams lies in the close-up… In the pointillist style so dexterously displayed in his reconstruction of the New Orleans slave market, Soul by Soul, Johnson zooms in on the ‘nested set of abstractions’ that made the Cotton Kingdom run: money, markets, maps, labor… River of Dark Dreams delivers spectacularly on the long-standing mission to write ‘history from the bottom up’: from the soil tangy and pungent with manure, and the Petit Gulf cotton plants rooted into it, and the calloused fingers plucking its blooming, sharp-edged bolls. This is a history of how wilderness became plantations that became states, nations, and empires.”—Maya Jasanoff, The New York Review of Books
2012 Daniel M. & Marilyn W. Laney Prize, Austin Civil War Round Table • 2012 Tom Watson Brown Book Prize, Society of Civil War Historians • 2011 Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies, New York Military Affairs Symposium
“[N]ot so much a history of wartime patriotism as a series of meditations on the meaning of the Union to Northerners, the role of slavery in the conflict, and how historians have interpreted (and in his view misinterpreted) these matters… Gallagher offers a salutary reminder of the power of democratic ideals not simply to Northerners in the era of the Civil War, but also to people in other nations, who celebrated the Union victory as a harbinger of greater rights for themselves. Imaginatively invoking sources neglected by other scholars…Gallagher gives a dramatic portrait of the power of wartime nationalism.”—Eric Foner, The New York Times Book Review
Finalist, 2011 Pulitzer Prize for History • 2011 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History • 2011 Avery O. Craven Award, Organization of American Historians • Co-winner, 2011 Merle Curti Award, Organization of American Historians • 2011 Willie Lee Rose Prize, Southern Association for Women Historians
“The sesquicentennial of the Civil War now looms on the horizon, promising [a] deluge of books… We will be fortunate indeed if in sheer originality and insight they measure up to Confederate Reckoning… McCurry challenges us to expand our definition of politics to encompass not simply government but the entire public sphere. The struggle for Southern independence, she shows, opened the door for the mobilization of two groups previously outside the political nation—white women of the nonslaveholding class and slaves… Confederate Reckoning offers a powerful new paradigm for understanding events on the Confederate home front.”—Eric Foner, The Nation