Historian Postel provides an excellent example of how broad topics can be researched and discussed with a balanced, rational perspective while also subtly drawing important, often new parallels between past and current situations ... Postel moves beyond the usual in a holistic approach that includes all persons disenfranchised due to class, race, location, or other socioeconomic factors during a time in which equality was finally a matter of law, though the laws governing its practice were often manipulated to suit those in power ... Informative and timely.
Excessive attention to organizational details sometimes threatens to overburden Mr. Postel’s narrative. But he manages to keep his account lucid, engrossing and lively, helped along by his decision to hitch it to leading figures in each of the movements ... As all three movements challenged vested interests and often heroically pushed for 'equality,' they mostly shunned black Americans, a story that Mr. Postel unpacks in compelling and disheartening detail.
In an acute analysis, historian Postel (The Populist Vision) persuasively argues that three advocacy organizations which worked to achieve a more level socioeconomic level playing field in the decades following the Civil War advanced their causes at the expense of racial equality ... With deep research and clear prose, Postel ably demonstrates that African-Americans were consistently excluded from these reformers’ visions of a more equal America. Postel’s broad and valuable study ably illuminates the era.
A closely argued account ... Postel has a keen eye for unlikely juxtapositions ... Of much use in understanding the course of late-19th-century American history, a time of turmoil that resembles our own in many respects.