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Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery
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Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  255 ratings  ·  17 reviews
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...more
ebook, 672 pages
Published December 15th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1979)
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Barbara Richardson
Litwack tells history by letting its participants speak. If you care about the aftermath of the Civil War in the South, and want first-hand accounts of the experience of freed slaves and those who helped and resisted them, this is your book. Riveting and honest. A gigantic accomplishment. My deepest admiration goes to this writer.
Jun 18, 2007 Dad rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for:
Required reading for any hope of understanding slavery in the US South. Litwack's writing style is unsurpassed and no surprise that he won the Pultizer.
Best book I ever read on this subject.
There are many books on American slavery; this book is about how it ended. It ended with the American Civil War. Thousands of Southern slaves ran away to Union lines; one group stole a gunboat steamer and piloted it to freedom. Over 186,000 black men, 10% of the total, served in the Union Army, which remained segregated for another century, into the Korean War. The Confederacy did not recognize blacks as legitimate prisoners of war, and either (re-)enslaved or massacred them; black soldiers were...more
I had to read this book for a US History course at Cal Berkeley. The only thing more magical than reading this book is having Dr. Litwack read the primary documents contained in it. I have never been more mesmerized in a large lecture with only a podium and a man speaking.

His mastery of mixing text with primary sources is amazing and even more amazing when you realize this title was published before the days of the internet.

Great book- an awesome textbook for history courses and a must read for...more
Mark Bowles
A. Synopsis: This book examines the “experience of the newly freed slaves. (xv)” The various dimensions of Reconstruction (politics, economics, military occupation) should not be permitted to silence the principle actors in this drama--4 million black slaves. The newly freed black slaves all emerged from different conditions of bondage, yet much of the slave experience was identical--the uses of humility, the virtues of ignorance, art of evasion, the techniques by which feelings were masked.
B. “...more
a gift from Paul Harvey - horrible accounts collected from slaves or ex-slaves - the mother who was forced to nurse the master's baby and ignore her own only to see him grew up and hurt hers... it's a massive history book i haven't even near finishing - how many hours the author must've spent gathering and examining sources from diaries of ex-slaves.
Jo Stafford
I found this book to be very informative and well-organized thematically. African Americans acted in a variety of ways during and immediately after the Civil War, depending on their individual circumstances, and Litwack illustrates this amply by quoting from former slaves' letters and interviews. There was no single African American experience, and people made decisions about their future based on a range of factors. Many of the personal stories Litwack cites are heartbreaking - I was particular...more
"Been in the Storm So Long" by Leon Litwack is an unvarnished depection of emancipation and reconstruction in the South after the Civil War from the view of enslaved people, the planter class, and Freedman's Bureau activitists The narrative is powerful because the reader hears the actual words of the people who lived through the era. The voices of the Blacks are especially noteworthy, because so seldom heard. (The author quotes extensively from enslaved peoples narratives compiled by the Federal...more
This is the history they didn't (and still don't) teach us:what it was like immediately following the end of the Civil War when a new social order and labor/management system was thrown into a battered and broken country, with the only man capable of providing leadership dead in his grave. Lincoln may not have "anticipated" all the consequences of the emancipation of slaves but with his unerring moral compass, he no doubt would have tried to rally the angels of of our better nature to demonstrat...more
David Bates
Leon Litwack’s 1979 work Been in the Storm So Long focuses on the transition from slavery to freedom. Systematic analysis is not the aim of Litwack’s work, which at times simply falls, despite the thematic nature of his chapters, into a collection of anecdotes. Rather Been in the Storm So Long makes a thesis of diversity and is often content with bearing witness to the human dimensions of overwhelming social change in which the “various dimensions of slavery’s collapse – the political machinatio...more
This is not a history of African-Americans in America or black soldiers in the Army, a history of slavery in the South or the lives of free blacks in the North. Whilst it touches on all of those things, it is predominantly an in-depth look into the experiences and sufferings of the ex-slaves in the years immediately following emancipation, which came earlier for some than others depending on the vicissitudes of war and the advances of the Union Army, but prior to Radical Reconstruction.

It's a lo...more
Mediocre research and poor application of primary source materials. While giving credit for the relatively early date of this publication (1979) this book falls down on many levels, beginning with an over-emphasis on presenting this period through the perspectives and language of White owners and former owners, with no application of critical race theory. The author ignored a trove of slave narratives to repeatedly engage with official period media reports, political statements, letters etc. Bey...more
I wish I could finish this book, but it's far too in-depth for me. I find the subject matter very interesting (a detailed study of blacks during the Civil War and afterward), as well as the methodology (sooooo much primary-source material, including quotations from slaves, plantation owners, etc. - practically one a Kindle page). But, for example, Chapter 2 is all about the impressment of blacks into the army, and according to my Kindle it will take over an hour to read. Given where I'm at in my...more
Donald Bauer
Outstanding! This book should be required reading for History teachers.
Best story I have ever read on the subject!
This book made me want to take my life.
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