Reconstruction: A Concise History by Allen C. Guelzo published by Oxford University Press (2018)

MaryDee

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Dec 23, 2014
@Pat Young, you mentioned in your first post that you recommend Foner's book (which I have read twice!). Foner later condensed his book into A Short History of Reconstruction (which I have not read, since I have the long version). Would you recommend the Short History over Guelzo to those who don't want to wade through the long version of Foner?
 

Pat Young

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@Pat Young, you mentioned in your first post that you recommend Foner's book (which I have read twice!). Foner later condensed his book into A Short History of Reconstruction (which I have not read, since I have the long version). Would you recommend the Short History over Guelzo to those who don't want to wade through the long version of Foner?
I have also read Foner's big book twice, but I have never read his "A Short History." I don't know if it is better than Guelzo's or not.
 

Joshism

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Jupiter, FL
I have also read Foner's big book twice, but I have never read his "A Short History." I don't know if it is better than Guelzo's or not.

Even the shorter version of Foner's book is over 300 pages, compared to under 200 for Guelzo. Foner's shorter book still looks at the broader sweep of Reconstruction rather than spending half the book on 1865-1868 and still places a heavy emphasis on labor/capital. For two "short histories" on the same general subject they seem to be very different.

(I haven't read the long version of Foner's book, but I did read the shorter version a little over 5 years ago for university. I haven't read Guelzo so I can't compare either.)
 

Pat Young

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Even the shorter version of Foner's book is over 300 pages, compared to under 200 for Guelzo. Foner's shorter book still looks at the broader sweep of Reconstruction rather than spending half the book on 1865-1868 and still places a heavy emphasis on labor/capital. For two "short histories" on the same general subject they seem to be very different.

(I haven't read the long version of Foner's book, but I did read the shorter version a little over 5 years ago for university. I haven't read Guelzo so I can't compare either.)
Thanks for the input. I have been reluctant to read the short version, so your words are helpful.
 

Saint Jude

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I was disappointed in the book because what Guelzo seems to mean by "Reconstruction" is the measures taken to deal with the freedmen before the end of the war. Any book that doesn't talk at length about work of the Freedmen's Bureau really can't be considered to be about Reconstruction. To me, the book reads like a series of lectures he gives in his classes about the Civil War. That said, I did learn a few things from it.
 

Pat Young

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I was disappointed in the book because what Guelzo seems to mean by "Reconstruction" is the measures taken to deal with the freedmen before the end of the war. Any book that doesn't talk at length about work of the Freedmen's Bureau really can't be considered to be about Reconstruction. To me, the book reads like a series of lectures he gives in his classes about the Civil War. That said, I did learn a few things from it.
Good points.
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2016
I was disappointed in the book because what Guelzo seems to mean by "Reconstruction" is the measures taken to deal with the freedmen before the end of the war. Any book that doesn't talk at length about work of the Freedmen's Bureau really can't be considered to be about Reconstruction. To me, the book reads like a series of lectures he gives in his classes about the Civil War. That said, I did learn a few things from it.

Really? The index shows nine entries.
 

wausaubob

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I think the financial issues dominated. The ownership of the national debt was widespread, and the newly chartered national banks had enormous power, especially with respect to industrial activity.
That led to the rapid and excessive reduction in military power. That in turn limited the ability of the federal government to control the racial politics of the south. It also led the savage conflict of atrocity and reprisal in the west. The army was too small to keep the peace in the west. It could only punish the Indians when retaliated against the whites.
I think it also constrained choices with respect to war mongering regarding Cuba, and in making peace with Britain, and a tacit alliance with Frankfurt and Berlin.
 

wausaubob

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The nation emerged from the Civil War with $2.4B in debt, and $400M in unbacked currency. And there were politically powerful people who wanted the federal government to assume Confederate debt and restore the fortunes of their friends.
 

wausaubob

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By March of 1869, most people in New England and New York new the Union Pacific was headed towards reorganization. There were not a lot of players capable of keeping the railroad running.
And I will repeat that there was no excitement for punishing people who had supported the Union, kept California from succeeding and built a railroad. The over spending on the national railroad paled in comparison to cost in dollars and loss of life of the Civil War. The people who led the Confederate effort were largely released and sent home. Only politics could motivate punishment of people who had done something that was overall positive, because they had cheated at it.
 

Bruce Vail

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Jul 8, 2015
Frankly, I am having trouble getting over Guelzo's association with National Review magazine. The publication has always been the home of right-wing cranks, racists and apologists for the plutocrat class.
 

Saint Jude

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Heaven
Really? The index shows nine entries.

Yes, really. As I recall, he mainly discusses the precedents and precursors of the Freedmen's Bureau, and he doesn't even mention the name of the head of the bureau. Nor does he discuss the reconstruction measures that came after the war. IMO, the word "Reconstruction" in the book's title amounts to false advertising. It was that word that led me to read the book in the first place, and I was very disappointed that he didn't deliver as promised.
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
The economy had been running on the Gold Rush, the Cotton Boom, the war boom, and railroad building. A downturn was probable.
The US economy was not on solid ground until cotton production returned to pre-war levels, the US made it back to the gold standard, and European immigration re-accelerated. Up until 1879 the economic and budget problems controlled the outcome on social issues. By then the controlling trusts were emerging.
 
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