Ordinary people don't experience life in the episodes of history books; their lives bridge the convenient chronologies we impose on the past. The same people who lived through the Civil War and the eradication of slavery also dealt with the hardships of Reconstruction—so why do we treat these events separately? Here Thomas Holt challenges decades of received wisdom to tell the story of generations of African Americans through their life experience, with all of the nuance, irony, contradictions, and complexities one might expect. Each chapter focuses on a generation of individuals who shaped the course of American history, hoping for a better life for their children.
"Simply brilliant. Masterfully structured and beautifully written, this is a field-transforming book that will reshape our understanding of African-American lives for generations to come."—Henry Louis Gates Jr.