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Adam Goodheart… Ely, a historian at William and Mary, appears to have dwelt happily for years in the world of rural antebellum Virginia. His book teems with details (often too many) of the lives of Randolph's freedmen, particularly those who settled a small community beside the Appomattox called Israel Hill. Teamsters, farmers, boatmen and shoemakers are treated in turn, as Ely mines land deeds, court records and wills to plot the former slaves' slow but steady accumulation of acreage, offspring and civic status.
— The New York Times