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Free at Last

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Drawn from letters, affidavits, records, and other documents collected by The Freedmen and Southern Society Project, Free at Last gives voice to compelling observations about slavery written by both blacks and whites, in the North and South, during the Civil War. Ranging from clever rhetoric to personal accounts of unspeakable cruelty, the documents display crude eloquence and sophisticated commentary together, without correction or alteration. Editorial annotations provide a unifying narrative thread. Many of the documents here were previously published in the volumes comprising Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 , also edited by Ira Berlin, but that does not diminish the usefulness of this volume as a means of providing broader access to them. Highly recommended for public and secondary school libraries.-- Lawrence E. Ellis, Newberry Coll. Lib., S.C.

This superb anthology makes available to general readers selected materials originally published in, or projected for, the multivolume reference work Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation (Cambridge University Press). This collection's editors are all connected with the Freedom Project; Berlin is the coordinator. The letters, reports and depositions included here, largely drawn from Union records, tell at first hand the human story of African Americans in the Civil War, which, the editors contend, was also a second American revolution. Between 1861 and 1865 government was transformed, citizienship redefined, social classes rearranged--and blacks were at the center of the process. The texts offered have a common denominator: the determination displayed by African American men and women to control their own destinies, especially in relations with whites. The editing and annotations are models of their kind, explaining and clarifying while preserving the originals' authenticity and immediacy. Illustrations. (Nov.)

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