Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Booknotes (Apr '15)

New Arrivals:

1. On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870 by David G. Smith (Fordham Univ Pr, 2015).

From the description: "Smith breaks new ground by illuminating the unique development of antislavery sentiment in south central Pennsylvania—a border region of a border state with a complicated history of slavery, antislavery activism, and unequal freedom. During the antebellum decades every single fugitive slave escaping by land east of the Appalachian Mountains had to pass through the region (Adams, Cumberland, and Franklin counties), where they faced both significant opportunities and substantial risks." "On the Edge of Freedom explores in captivating detail the fugitive slave issue through fifty years of sectional conflict, war, and reconstruction in south central Pennsylvania and provocatively questions what was gained by the activists’ pragmatic approach of emphasizing fugitive slaves over immediate abolition and full equality. Smith argues that after the war, social and demographic changes in southern Pennsylvania worked against African Americans’ achieving equal opportunity,..." This is the paperback reprint of the hardcover 2012 first edition.

2. The History of Fort Ocracoke in Pamlico Sound by Robert K. Smith, ed. by Earl O'Neal Jr.
3. Richard Gatlin and the Confederate Defense of Eastern North Carolina by James L. Gaddis, Jr.

From The History Press, both titles cover important topics related to the Confederate military defense of eastern North Carolina. O'Neal's book is a bit unusual in that it combines historical narrative (both Revolutionary and Civil War periods) with detailed material culture, artifact inventory, and archaeological reports, all having to do with the Confederate Outer Banks fort guarding one of the major entrances to Pamlico Sound. Gaddis's book takes the broader view of the Confederate struggle to adequately defend the North Carolina coastline and inland waterways. Emphasis is on the life of General Richard Gatlin and his wartime position as the man charged with keeping the eastern reaches of the state out of Union hands, an effort that disastrously failed.

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