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Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of…
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Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery (edition 1980)

by Leon F. Litwack (Author)

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340559,211 (4.15)39
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award Based on hitherto unexamined sources- interviews with ex-slaves, diaries and accounts by former slaveholders, this "rich and admirably written book" (Eugene Genovese, The New York Times Book Review) aims to show how, during the Civil War and after Emancipation, blacks and whites interacted in ways that dramatized not only their mutual dependency, but the ambiguities and tensions that had always been latent in "the peculiar institution." Contents 1. "The Faithful Slave" 2. Black Liberators 3. Kingdom Comin' 4. Slaves No More 5. How Free is Free? 6. The Feel of Freedom- Moving About 7. Back to Work- The Old Compulsions 8. Back to Work- The New Dependency 9. The Gospel and the Primer 10. Becoming a People… (more)
Member:brendanowicz
Title:Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery
Authors:Leon F. Litwack (Author)
Info:Vintage (1980), Edition: 1st Vintage Books ed, 672 pages
Collections:Your library
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Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery by Leon F. Litwack

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Showing 5 of 5
I did not finish because it had to go back to the library but I will check it out again later. it is really interesting but long. this is an important one to read (note to self) ( )
  Tosta | Jul 5, 2021 |
About two months ago, my friend Kim Nalley, who is both an internationally know jazz and blues singer and a Ph.D. candidate in history at UC Berkeley, sent around a list of suggested reading about the African American experience and the history of racism in America. I will be going back to that list perhaps every third or fourth book I read until I've worked my way through it.

Checking in at 556 pages, Been in the Storm So Long constitutes a commitment of time and energy, but an extremely worthwhile commitment. I was under the impression that the book would provide an overview of the Reconstruction Era, but in fact Litwack stops right as Radical Reconstruction get going. Instead, the book starts with a description of the conditions endured by the prisoners of slavery as the Civil War neared, continues on to describe conditions and events during the war years, and then covers the first few years after Emancipation. Litwack makes detailed use of letters, diaries, newspaper articles and interviews. He lays on example after example after example of each condition and development he describes. At times it seems like perhaps he's still doing that even after the points been effectively made. However, at all times I felt like the effect created with this tactic was an important one. Because it made each element not just something to be told and then to be moved on from, but instead something to consider over and over again until something like knowledge perhaps had seeped in.

Some of the key historical points, some of which I can say that I knew, perhaps, but often only in a vague manner and are extremely important for every American (at least) to be strongly aware in more detailed ways:

1) Slavery was a horror.

2) The crossing of thousands of escaping slaves across the advancing Union lines and, eventually, into the Union army, was an extremely important factor in the North's military victory.

3) The Southern planter class was determined during and after the war that Emancipation would not in any way mean the end of White supremacy. Acknowledging that slavery was over did not in any way signify to them that Blacks should have any rights whatsoever. That included voting, testifying in court, serving on juries or, in many places, owning land.

4) The occupying Union forces sympathized much more with the White aspirations listed above than with helping protect ex-slaves from getting cheated out of the wages their former "masters" were now supposed to be paying them or even physical attack and murder at the hands of whites displeased by their behavior in one way or another.

That's a very, very short list of the major issues covered in this fascination and essential history. ( )
  rocketjk | Sep 20, 2020 |
This is an admirable work of evidence-based history, presenting the aftermath of the Civil War in the words of the people, black and white, who lived it. This technique delivers not just a tremendous amount of important information but also a nuanced account of the baffling and horrific human experience of slavery. The grotesque and obstinate projections by slaveholders of the supposed satisfactions, but also the lurking threat, of their slaves aptly shows the fierceness of their internal denial of the atrocity they were responsible for. The former slaves' accounts poignantly express misplaced faith in American ideals and values that would redress their wrongs. The lasting impression is of an opportunity missed, as the chance to knit former slaves into the society was discarded and squelched, with Jim Crow racism selected and favored instead. ( )
1 vote oatleyr | Aug 22, 2020 |
2097 Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, by Leon F. Litwack (read 6 Sep 1987) (Pulitzer History prize in 1980) (National Book Award history prize in 1981) This book is a prime example of what used to be called revisionist history, but it is much more mature than early examples of that genre. I found the early chapters, with their seemingly unending examples of incidents illustrating slave life during the Civil War, rather tedious but the concluding chapters are excellently done and absorbing reading. They illustrate that the freedmen were well justified in their behavior in their actions after the Civil War and before the start of Radical Reconstruction. This book just goes up to the beginning of Radical Reconstruction, covering about 1860 to 1868. It is very well-done and an excellent, excellent book to read. An absorbing book, and how it makes one ashamed that emancipation had to wait till the 1960's to be completed! ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 23, 2008 |
Leon F. Litwack, in the preface to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, describes the setting of four million black slaves receiving freedom. Four million people who had lost connection to their African heritage and at the time of the Civil War had been American slaves for generations.
As slaves, they had learned skills of survival, especially how to adjust to the needs and desires of white people. Such engrained skills intended for subservience, now needed to propel them forward into shaping their own lives.
The massive social upheaval confronted white slave owners with the realities of their dependent and exploitative relationships with black slaves. Slaves were confronted with the vulnerability of their white owners. Many were not able or ready to process such life-changing alterations to their perspectives and social constructions.
While reactions to the upheaval are available from the white perspective, very little written history is available from the black perspective. The Federal Writers’ Project compiled interviews with the few remaining former slaves about seventy years after the Civil War. While this is some of the most original source available, Litwack encourages caution in researching the material. The interviews were done decades after the experience, and while such a traumatic occurrence was still fresh in the minds of the interviewees, some particulars of memory may not have been accurate. The interviews were conducted by whites unfamiliar with the life experiences and language idioms of those they interviewed. Of even more concern is the blacks’ lifetime of learned subservience, evasion, and giving the white person what they imagined they wanted to hear. With these cautions in mind, these interviews provide the most authentic and timely revelation of the black experience of emigrating from slavery to freedom.
1 vote lgaikwad | Oct 7, 2007 |
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award Based on hitherto unexamined sources- interviews with ex-slaves, diaries and accounts by former slaveholders, this "rich and admirably written book" (Eugene Genovese, The New York Times Book Review) aims to show how, during the Civil War and after Emancipation, blacks and whites interacted in ways that dramatized not only their mutual dependency, but the ambiguities and tensions that had always been latent in "the peculiar institution." Contents 1. "The Faithful Slave" 2. Black Liberators 3. Kingdom Comin' 4. Slaves No More 5. How Free is Free? 6. The Feel of Freedom- Moving About 7. Back to Work- The Old Compulsions 8. Back to Work- The New Dependency 9. The Gospel and the Primer 10. Becoming a People

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