Leading Reconstruction historian Eric Foner reflects on the state of the field, situating his work within a longer debate and reflecting on some of the key issues raised in this essay collection. Foner emphasizes the influence of the “new social history” on post-civil rights era scholars but acknowledges that students of the period today are likely to regard this body of work as the established orthodoxy rather than the new challenge to dominant interpretations, which it once was. Where this will lead new scholarship is difficult to gauge, but Foner concurs with Holt's assessment in the opening essay that the large body of comparative work on race and emancipation has much to offer students of the US experience, adding his support for the “expansive” approaches that have emerged in recent years—particularly the reconsiderations growing out of a consideration of late nineteenth-century imperialism. Expressing some concern that scholarly attention to national politics has slipped, Foner concludes with a call for a “truly new account” that situates Reconstruction “in the long processes of American and global history.”
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