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A Massacre in Memphis

The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


An unprecedented account of one of the bloodiest and most significant racial clashes in American history

In May 1866, just a year after the Civil War ended, Memphis erupted in a three-day spasm of racial violence that saw whites rampage through the city's black neighborhoods. By the time the fires consuming black churches and schools were put out, forty-six freed slaves had been murdered. Congress, furious at this and other evidence of white resistance in the conquered South, launched what is now called Radical Reconstruction, policies to ensure the freedom of the region's four million blacks-and one of the most remarkable experiments in American history.

Stephen V. Ash's A Massacre in Memphis is a portrait of a Southern city that opens an entirely new view onto the Civil War, slavery, and its aftermath. A momentous national event, the riot is also remarkable for being "one of the best-documented episodes of the American nineteenth century." Yet Ash is the first to mine the sources available to full effect. Bringing postwar Memphis, Tennessee to vivid life, he takes us among newly arrived Yankees, former Rebels, boisterous Irish immigrants, and striving freed people, and shows how Americans of the period worked, prayed, expressed their politics, and imagined the future. And how they died: Ash's harrowing and profoundly moving present-tense narration of the riot has the immediacy of the best journalism.

Told with nuance, grace, and a quiet moral passion, A Massacre in Memphis is Civil War-era history like no other.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 05, 2013 – In the tumultuous post-Civil War period, there were a number of reprisals by former Confederates and their sympathizers against African-Americans, but none were as violent or maddening as Memphis, Tenn. s horrific race riot in May 1866. Ash, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Tennessee, explains the powerful rebel resistance s growth after the city fell to the Yankees in 1862, and the rebels use of Memphis s largely Irish police force and white working poor to assault freed blacks in daily life. In a documentary-style approach, Ash lays bare the racial demons of committed secessionists emboldened by fear and hate, with the tension erupting in a three-day white siege of the nearby black communities. Derived from testimonies collected in the aftermath by the Freedmen s Bureau, the U.S. Army, and a special Congressional committee, this detailed account of the lengthy riot and its reverberations surges at the reader; the murder and mayhem claimed over 40 black lives, with dozens wounded. For those who wish to understand the roots of America s racial issues, Ash s captivating and thoughtful book offers explanations and raises many new questions.
A Massacre in Memphis
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Oct 15, 2013
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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