Who, thinking of Reconstruction, fails to think of corruption? The Grant administration and the Great Barbecue remain inseparable in our minds. In his first book, The Plundering Generation, Mark W. Summers dealt with corruption and the breakdown of ethics in public life from 1849 to 1861. Now in a study of the post-Civil War years, he examines the aftermath of the war, when abuses of the public trust were all the fashion, from grafting South Carolina Republicans to plundering Tammany Hall delegates. Noting the effect of corruption on national politics during the era of Reconstruction, Summers nonetheless suggests the corruption issue may have had more important consequences than the misdeeds themselves. Indeed, the very forces that impelled corruption were the ones that defined and limited the character of reform. Official rascality raised the strongest possible argument for a scaled-down, cheap government, a professional civil service, and a retreat from Reconstruction. Without whitewashing villainy or blackguarding the liberal reformers, Summers re-examines the swindles, exposes the exaggerations and the self-interested motives of the accusers, and suggests ways in which the issue itself struck heavier blows at the way Americans governed themselves than did the acts of corruption.