Ordinary people don't experience history as it is taught by historians. They live across the convenient chronological divides 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 almost always treat them separately? In this groundbreaking new book, renowned historian Thomas C. Holt challenges this form to tell the story of generations of African Americans through the lived experience of the subjects themselves, with all of the nuances, ironies, contradictions, and complexities one might expect.
Each chapter focuses on a generation of individuals who shaped the course of American history, whilst being consistantly confronted with the ebb and flow of their civil rights and status within society. Holt further explores how taken together their stories and history fashioned a distinct identity amid the turmoil of four centuries of American History.