North of Slavery marked the first comprehensive scholarly effort to explore the meaning of race in the northern states before the Civil War. It many ways, it remains -- almost forty years after its publication -- the single best starting point for examining the lives of Northern free blacks. It focuses on a region traditionally neglected by other studies of race relations, a problem being rectified in the scholarship only now. Challenging the myth of the North as a bastion of racial liberalism, Litwack portrays a North beset by segregation, racial pogrom, legal stricture, and -- above all -- a system of informal proscription which rendered black people there anything but "free." Written during the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement, the book had a chilling and prophetic understanding of the struggles which would confront the CRM as it moved out of the South and into the nation. North of Slavery was, and still is, a stunning antidote to the attitudes of those who tell themselves "it doesn't happen here." As is his style, Litwack peppers his history liberally with compelling first-hand accounts; the writing is exceptional: clean, hard-hitting, dark, compelling, and courageous.