Ask for a book recommendation on Reconstruction and you are likely to get Eric Foner’s masterful synthesis, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877.
It’s still a great place to start, but there has been a good deal published about the period over the past few years and much of it takes us beyond the traditional time-line and spatial framework outlined in Foner.
What follows is a list of books that have pushed me in various ways to think anew about the standard list of events during the postwar period and a host of new ones. Of course, this is not intended as an exhaustive list.
Feel free to add suggestions in the comments section below.
Adam Arenson and Andrew R. Graybill, Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States (University of California Press, 2015).
Stephen V. Ash, A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War (Hill & Wang, 2014).
Paul A. Cimbala and Randall Miller eds.,The Great Task Remaining Before Us: Reconstruction as America’s Continuing Civil War (Fordham University Press, 2010).
Gregory Downs, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War (Harvard University Press, 2014).
Gregory Downs and Kate Masur, eds.,The World the Civil War Made (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).
Philip Dray, Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).
Douglas R. Egerton, The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era (Bloomsbury Press, 2014).
Carole Emberton, Beyond Redemption: Race, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War (University of Chicago, 2014).
Elaine F. Parsons, Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan during Reconstruction [(University of North Carolina Press, 2016) Note: just started].
Hannah Rosen, Terror in the Heart of Freedom: Citizenship, Sexual Violence, and the Meaning of Race in the Postemancipation South (University of North Carolina Press, 2009).
Michael A. Ross, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Brooks Simpson, The Reconstruction Presidents (University of Kansas Press, 1998).
Mark Summers, The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).