Readers will find these 27 essays eloquent, barbed, timely and outspoken. Franklin's assessment of a widening socioeconomic chasm between blacks and whites, his sweeping surveys of racism from the American Revolution to the Civil War and beyond, are hard-hitting. One piece links blacks' civil rights struggles to the campaigns of Amerindians, Puerto Ricans and Mexican-Americans for full equality. In another, Franklin faults D. W. Griffith's 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation , arguing that its distorted portrayal of Reconstruction made it a midwife in the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan. There are sharp profiles of James Ayers, white Civil War recruiter of black soldiers, and of Mississippi freedman John Lynch, who became a Republican Congressman and paymaster of the U.S. Army. A Duke University professor, Franklin insists that historians can play an active role in shaping public policy. He writes movingly of his first encounter with racism at age 16 and its searing effects. (Feb.)
On the development of race relations policies in the British National Health Service. Franklin, most recently of Duke U. but long associated with the U. of Chicago, collects 27 of his most influential shorter writings. The essays are presented thematically and include pieces on southern history, significant but neglected historical figures, historiography, the connection between historical problems and contemporary issues, and the public role of the historian. His career has spanned a half century and in many ways parallels the emergence of Afro-American history as a legitimate area of inquiry. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
John Hope Franklin is James B. Duke Professor of History Emeritus and professor of legal history at Duke University. He has received more than eighty honorary degrees. His books include From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans; Racial Equality in America; A Southern Odyssey: Travelers in the Antebellum North; and George Washington Williams: A Biography.