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 That edition, only recently superseded, was edited and featured an Introduction by Benjamin Quarles, a prolific and pioneering African American historian.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.
“A Tale of Two Plantations is the first book to describe with vivid detail the lived realities of the radically different slave societies of the Caribbean and North America. Based on deep research in plantation records, Dunn’s comparison explains how the lives of slaves in different parts of the Anglo-Atlantic world could be so different. By illuminating the family lives of enslaved people like Sarah Affir and Winney Grimshaw, he has breathed life into the old account books that listed people as nothing but property.”—Edward Rugemer, author of The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War
After Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862, Rose Herera’s owners fled to Havana, taking her three children with them. Adam Rothman tells the story of Herera’s quest to rescue her children from bondage after the war. As the kidnapping case made its way through the courts, it revealed the prospects and limits of justice during Reconstruction.
At the center of Lincoln’s political thought and career is an intense passion for equality that runs so deep in the speeches, messages, and letters that it has the force of religious conviction for Lincoln. George Kateb examines these writings to reveal that this passion explains Lincoln’s reverence for both the Constitution and the Union.
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
2013 Gilbert Chinard Prize, Society for French Historical Studies and the Institut Français d’Amerique • 2012 Albert J. Beveridge Award, American Historical Association • 2012 James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History, American Historical Association
“[A] well-researched and readable family history… [T]he Tinchants struggled, survived, and flourished—in Senegal, Cuba, New Orleans, Antwerp, and Paris; and through the Haitian Revolution, French Revolution of 1848, the Civil War and Reconstruction in the U.S., and WWII in Europe… [H]istorically enlightening and inspiring.”—Publishers Weekly
2013 Darlene Clark Hine Award, Organization of American Historians • Finalist, 2013 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
“[W]e know little about the day-to-day lives of female runaways, their families and their relationships with Northern whites. Sydney Nathans’s To Free a Family is a minor masterpiece that goes a long way toward filling this gap… Nathans is brilliant at reconstructing Mary Walker’s life and her relationship with Peter and Susan Lesley… The result is a remarkable story of an extended biracial family that embarked on a 15-year effort to reunite Walker with her surviving children.”—John Stauffer, The Wall Street Journal
2012 Anisfeld-Wolf Book Award, Cleveland Foundation • A Wall Street Journal Holiday Gift Pick, 2012
“Historian Blight examines how we handled the centennial [of the Civil War], which occurred at the infancy of the civil rights movement… History and great literature blend beautifully as Blight conducts his examination of the works of four writers—Robert Penn Warren, southern-born novelist; Bruce Catton, historian and journalist; Edmund Wilson, literary critic; and James Baldwin, northern-born essayist and race critic—providing…context for…their views of the centennial and all its commercialism and hypocrisy… Blight explores…the sense of American redemption that did not include any examination of the tragedies of racism and slavery.”—Vanessa Bush, Booklist (starred review)
Finalist, 2014 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History • Finalist, 2014 Lincoln Prize, Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
“Through a series of bold, imaginative and insightful case studies, Christopher Hager uncovers the intellectual world of U.S. slavery and charts the hopes, expectations and fears of enslaved writers… By understanding emancipation as a slow process rather than a rapid transformation, Word by Word shows how literacy was an incomplete and sometimes flawed instrument of black self-determination… By rendering legible and audible the writings of the literate minority…Hager reveals the desperate and creative measures taken by former slaves to assert their communal and individual voices.”—Richard Follett, Times Higher Education
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