George M. Fredrickson is Edgar E. Robinson Professor of US History Emeritus at Stanford. His recent books include Racism: A Short History and Not Just Black and White, a collection co-edited with Nancy Foner.


Redcoat Liberation

Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty

by Cassandra Pybus

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution

by Simon Schama
Popular views of the American Revolution usually overlook one aspect of it that sharply contradicts the idealized image of a struggle for liberty against oppression. For the one fifth of the population that was African-American, freedom meant escape from slavery but not independence from Britain; those seeking emancipation were more …

They’ll Take Their Stand

Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World

by David Brion Davis

The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview

by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese
For nearly half a century two historians have dominated the field of slavery studies, broadly conceived. David Brion Davis has been the preeminent historian of ideas about slavery in the Western world since the early modern period and has completed two volumes of a projected trilogy: The Problem of Slavery …

Still Separate & Unequal

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America

by Ira Katznelson
Affirmative action, the policy of giving preferences for jobs, university admissions, or government contracts to members of designated racial and ethnic groups, has never been popular, and it could soon be abolished. In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down an undergraduate admissions policy at the University of Michigan that provided …

The Long Trek to Freedom

Though the Heavens May Fall: The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery

by Steven M. Wise

Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South

by Adam Rothman
Before the middle of the eighteenth century, slavery was generally accepted in Europe and its colonies as a divinely ordained punishment for original sin or simply as a natural part of the eternal order of things. Yet by then Europeans had stopped enslaving one another for centuries; slavery was a …

Is There Hope for the South?

Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent

edited by Anthony Dunbar
Among the regions of the United States, the South has long stood out as the most distinctive, and, in the minds of many, the one that has deviated the most from the norms accepted by the rest of the country. This sense of difference and peculiarity goes back to the …

America’s Original Sin

Challenging the Boundaries of Slavery

by David Brion Davis

Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves

by Ira Berlin
The institution of slavery has had a profound and lasting effect on American history. Virtually all historians now agree that sectional differences on the slavery issue caused the Civil War. Until the eve of that conflict the slaveholding interest was so economically and politically powerful as to appear virtually impregnable.

Wise Man

Hanging Together: Unity and Diversity in American Culture

by John Higham, edited by Carl J. Guarneri
Specialization on increasingly narrow subjects is the dominant trend in American historical scholarship. Rarer and rarer, at least in the academy, are generalists dealing with broad stretches of the past or souls who work in more than one of the usual specialties or move readily from one to another. The …

The Double Life of W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919–1963

by David Levering Lewis
One sign that there has been at least some progress in black–white relations during the past half-century is the admission of a small number of African-Americans to the pantheon of national heroes and exemplary leaders. Frederick Douglass is no longer just an escaped slave who became a follower of William …