The stories of individuals--storekeepers, a laundress, and a minister among them--anchor this ambitious and wide-ranging history and demonstrate with new clarity how contingent the slaves' pursuit of freedom was on the rhythms and culture of military life. Taylor brings new insight into the enormous risks taken by formerly enslaved people to find freedom in the midst of the nation's most destructive war.
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The largest hole in the literature on the American Civil War is the experience of African American slave refugees called contrabands. Amy Murrell Taylor ably fills much of that gap with her truly impressive book, Embattled Freedom. Taylor brings to life the remarkable journey of these African Americans, a migration that began with the thrill of fulfilling of their dream of freedom, but in most cases was fraught with hardship and misfortune. Without doubt, this book is the starting point for anyone interested in the saga and often tragedy that befell hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in the wartime transition from slavery to freedom.Joseph T. Glatthaar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
A wonderfully conceived and persuasive new history of wartime refugeesinnovative in its organization, pathbreaking in its seamless integration of military and social history, and beautifully written.Leslie Schwalm, University of Iowa