Share This Article

Dear Sir/Madam, 

I have been reading your America’s Civil War for years and love it.  Would you please recommend a book on Reconstruction that is not completely slanted to the North or the South’s perspective for me? 

I appreciate your time and any recommendations you can offer. 

Robert A. Sanders

Forney, Texas




Dear Mr. Sanders,

After consulting with the staff of our two Civil War related magazines, the classic standout recommended by Dana Shoaf, editor of Civil War Times, is America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, by Eric Foner. Associate editor Sarah Richardson added two reputable additions, although they both focus on facets that constitute microcosms of the era:

Rehearsal for Reconstruction by Willie Lee Rose, published in 1964. Highly readable account of the Federal attempt to oversee the transition to freedom at Port Royal, South Carolina, taken by Federal forces in November 1861.

“Two books about the Colfax Massacre: The Colfax Massacre by Lee Anna Keith (2007) and The Day Freedom Died by Charles Lane (2008). I have read the first—it is compelling—and have read favorable remarks about the second, which offers a more comprehensive look. The killings, which occurred during an armed battle over election results in Colfax in 1873, highlight the issues roiling the region during Reconstruction. It led to a Supreme Court case with far-reaching consequences. He can read an excerpt of the Lane book here:

“The strongest recommendation is the level of detail these books deliver.”

Just out this year for your appraisal from a proven, award-winning historian is Reconstruction: A Concise History, by Allen C. Guelzo.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

More Questions at Ask Mr. History


Don’t miss the next Ask Mr. History question! To receive notification whenever any new item is published on HistoryNet, just scroll down the column on the right and sign up for our RSS feed.