Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Booknotes: Paying Freedom's Price

New Arrival:
Paying Freedom's Price: A History of African Americans in the Civil War
by Paul D. Escott (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

For today's readership, there are many modern survey histories of the experiences of free blacks and slaves during the Civil War era and many others organized around one or more specific themes. Paul Escott's "Paying Freedom's Price provides a comprehensive yet brief and readable history of the role of African Americans—both slave and free—from the decade leading up to the Civil War until its immediate aftermath." His book "concentrates on the black military and civilian experience in the North as well as the South. He argues that African Americans—slaves, free Blacks, civilians, soldiers, men, and women—played a crucial role in transforming the sectional conflict into a war for black freedom. The chronological organization will help readers understand how the Civil War evolved from a war to preserve the Union to a war that sought to abolish slavery, but not racial inequality. Within this chronological framework, Escott provides a thematic structure, tracing the causes of the war and African American efforts to include abolition, black military service, and racial equality in the wartime agenda." The main narrative runs around 125 pages and is written in a more popular style so the book will mainly serve as a general introduction to the subject. Supplementing the main text is a fairly extensive document section and a useful bibliographic essay.

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