[a] comprehensive and often revelatory history of American abolitionism from its origins in early colonial New England to its triumphant advance into the mainstream of the Republican Party before the Civil War.
...the seemingly endless detail presented over the course of nearly 600 pages of text and another 100-plus pages of notes frustrates her effort to present a clear alternative narrative to the familiar one ... Nonetheless, she has given us a full history of the men and women who truly made us free. And that is more than enough.
At once encyclopedic and analytically original, this massive tome – including back matter, the work swells to more than 700 pages – is a book of field-defining significance ... Sinha is at her best when she documents a vibrant and coherent intellectual tradition among African Americans ... Sinha’s treatment of the origins of the women’s rights movement reveals one of her book’s most glaring weaknesses (along with an occasional tendency to be somewhat ungenerous to previous generations of scholars who studied abolitionism and also to her peers now working in the field): inflexibility ... Sinha has nonetheless produced a powerful, ambitious work of scholarship. The research is extraordinary ... Her prose is also careful and often elegant, her argument bold ... Manisha Sinha’s book offers us a glimpse of a usable past: a diverse and inclusive story of abolitionism.