Race and Reunion: The Civil War in the American History

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A Book Review
Presented to
Dr. James Leiker

In Partial Fulfillment of
History 307

University of Missouri – Kansas City

Nathan Gourley

September 2006
The purpose of Race and Reunion appears to be the explaining of the effect of the Civil War in the memories of the generations that followed the conflict, as well as how it shaped society. Blight attempts to shine a light on the fact that much of the healing after the war was at the expense of the freed slaves. The intended audience would probably be those who have some background knowledge of the Civil War, but lack the understanding to a certain extent, of the long lasting repercussions on different groups of Americans. The thesis of Race and Reunion is about how despite the clear military victory of the North, the South convinced the Union they knew what was best for the freed slaves. Blight’s book goes right along with the class discussions that we have had; about the poor treatment of blacks especially in the South and how the Compromise of 1876 and the withdrawal of the troops from the South meant the end of protected freedoms for black Americans. Blight’s book also reflects the readings “Plessy v. Ferguson” and “Congressman Frank Clark Praises Segregation, 1908” from Major Problems in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. It reconfirms that black Americans were not seen as citizens or in a lot of cases as human beings, but as a dirty inferior race, whose problems were simply being put on the back burner of American society. The book is very scatter structured as far as the flow of time, the flow of ideas however seem to compensate for this. At times you feel that some of the information that Blight is feeding you is irrelevant. As a reader I felt lost at times because of the lack of a sense of time, and its jumping of time periods caused misunderstandings and at times forced me to have to revisit what I had previously...
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