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In The Death of Reconstruction the author's main concern is with attitudes in the North, not in the states of the former Confederacy. She notes that most Northerners had little direct contact with blacks, because only 10 percent of them lived in the North. In the years immediately after the war, the Republican press in the North took a benign view of blacks as a group, portraying them as poor but eager to work their way to prosperity as free labor...The most interesting aspect of this book is the reminder it affords that the debate over "affirmative action" is not a modern phenomenon but can be traced back to the 19th century...[Richardson's] focus on class conflict is a useful addition to other writings on the Gilded Age.
— John M. Taylor