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Reviews

"Brook Thomas excels as an interdisciplinary scholar. This cogent and clearly written book represents a major addition to the literary and historical scholarship on Reconstruction."

"Thomas is the ideal scholar to provide insight into the ways a wide range of authors engaged the momentous changes of Reconstruction in their writing. Yet another classic work of Americanist scholarship by Brook Thomas—and a timely one indeed."

"An eye-opening investigation of the literature of Reconstruction by the leading authority in the field. Paying close attention to legal, cultural, and political history, Thomas shows how works by Tourgée, Cable, Dixon, Chesnutt, Ruiz de Burton, and a number of other writers engaged key debates on national reconciliation, race, and the nature of government authority. Beautifully written and intellectually engaging from the first to last page, Thomas’s book should quickly emerge as the standard work on the subject."

"By expertly reading Reconstruction literature as historiography and Reconstruction historiography as literature, Brook Thomas has produced a masterwork and a must-read not only for literary scholars but also for historians. He both rewrites the literary history of Reconstruction and also brilliantly lays out new ways of approaching arguably the most important and misunderstood era in US history."

"Brook Thomas masterfully bridges the gap between history and literary criticism. His readings of literary texts enrich and enlighten, while his analysis remains grounded in its historical context. Thomas embraces the deep complexity of the period, offering a Reconstruction that moves far beyond 'plain black and white.'"

"Historians have long recognized the importance of Reconstruction; this book will ensure that literary critics do so as well. Brook Thomas expands our sense of what Reconstruction was, reminding us that it didn't end in 1877, nor was it confined to the south. More important, he complicates our sense of what Reconstruction meant—and what it continues to mean. With his customary rigor and clear-sightedness, Thomas eschews the 'black and white' of earlier accounts and gives us instead a richer array of greys."

"The first comprehensive literary history of the Reconstruction era, it is gracefully written, careful and cogent in its arguments, with new insights on almost every page. It is a major accomplishment highlighting the intimate links between war, literature, and memory. It should be required reading for anyone interested in American literature and history and the nation's ongoing dilemmas with slavery and race, welfare, and the role of the national government."

"Thomas’s stated intention is to connect literature to the broad sweep of history rather than provide unified analyses of single literary works or authors. His insights are incisive, and throughout the book he displays deep knowledge of the history and historiography of Reconstruction. This book is a valuable addition to the scholarship of a period that is often framed solely by the idea of literary realism. Students of 19th-century US literature or history will likely find the book fascinating. Highly recommended."

"The Literature of Reconstruction offers a thorough analysis of the fiction and poetry that played an essential role in broader debates about reunion, federalism, race relations, industrialization, and more.... [The Literature of Reconstruction] is a meaningful addition to existing scholarship that addresses the cultural, legal, and political histories of the Reconstruction era."

"Brook Thomas’s The Literature of Reconstruction is a critical intervention into both the historiography and the literary history of Reconstruction, unsettling multiple critical commonplaces regarding the memory and meaning of this era."

"The Literature of Reconstruction is an important intervention in scholarship on Reconstruction. It is full of original insights and innovative arguments that will benefit literary scholars and historians."