Foners excellent book is a masterfull historical synthesis of the period known as Reconstruction after the American Civil War (1861-65).
The book is extremely readable, comprehensive and full of intelligent analysis of the social, cultural, racial and economic forces of the era amply illustrated with pertinent quotes from all those involved. The situation after the end of the civil war when the defeated south was occupied by the Union Army is one that I knew little about before reading this book, but that proved to be no obstacle to engaging with Foners well written book.
He pictures the position of the freed Slaves, the Confederate south and the Union North with great skill; not simplifying or glossing over nuances but presenting a full picture of all the forces, pressures and ideologies that clashed within that era. The plight of the freed blacks, and their frustrations in attempting to claim a full political, social and economic role within the post civil war United States is particularly harrowing and frustrating for anyone with a sense of fairness. The level of white violence which goes beyond the Ku Klux Klan to a fair proportion of the southern Democratic party is sickening, I had no idea at how pervasive and murderous it was.
It is definitely worth getting holding of, and if you can't stomach the 600 pages of the unabridged edition (or have a weak wrist) then there is a shorter version available too - A Short History of Reconstruction
. I look forward to getting my hands on other works by Eric Foner.