Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Journalist and author Ward (River Run Red) offers something new in the oft-plowed field of Civil War studies--namely, a book that gives blacks who lived through and remembered the experience their own voice. Ward draws heavily but astutely on the roughly 2000 ex-slave interviews conducted by the WPA in the 1930s but also uses ex-slave autobiographies, oral histories conducted by black colleges and others, and wartime letters and personal accounts by blacks--all to follow the slaves and then freedpeople as they variously protected or sabotaged their master's property, ran away to freedom or stayed on to work what they thought were their own fields, sought to repair families rent by sale in bondage and by the upheavals of war, served with their masters in war, and observed the old South going with the wind. The sometimes contradictory responses of slaves and ex-slaves to the meaning of slavery, the war, and freedom will surprise readers expecting a one-note chorus of complaint and anger. The slaves' war was a tangle of expectations, actions, and obligations as they sorted through how best to survive and be true to themselves. If Ward sometimes overstates the uniqueness of his own work, he never underestimates or exaggerates the collected wisdom of those slaves who knew the war in ways that turn its history and memory inside out and upside down. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/08.]--Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Even after the Emancipation Proclamation supposedly transformed the goals of the Civil War, many in the North were reluctant to wage war on behalf of the liberation of slaves. After the war, the nation was engulfed by the remembrances of Northerners and Southerners, almost exclusively white, who participated in the conflict. Ward, an award-winning author and commentator for NPR, has provided a unique and immensely valuable narrative that gives voice to the experiences and attitudes of slaves who endured the conflict. Ward utilizes testimonials, diaries, and letters, and organizes them in chronological order from the months before the commencement of hostilities to the aftermath of the surrender at Appomattox. These remembrances include impressions of slaves who witnessed John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and the shelling of Fort Sumter. A Mississippi slave recalls the character of both Jefferson Davis and his wife. There are surprising accounts of the reaction of slaves to the invasion by Yankee outsiders. This is a work that will interest both scholars and general readers and will be an excellent addition to Civil War collections.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2008 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A portrait drawn from interviews, letters, diaries, and memoirs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.