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Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality 1890-2000
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 2010
The focus of Adam Faircloughs book, as is evident from the title "Better Day Coming", is on black efforts at fighting for full citizenship within American society. Things had become extremely bleak for them after the radical Republicans (it was not an oxymoron in the 1860's and 70's) efforts at Reconstruction were defeated, and blacks lost their vote and representatives, land and legal equality. Any attempts at seeking re-dress were brutally put down by Southern Democrats and the Klu Klux Klan. Faircloughs narrative takes the reader from those bleak times through the variety of accommodations and rebellions, dead-ends and progress, that make up the black experience in America up to the end of the twentieth century.

A good deal of this history is focussed on the personalities that stood out in black history, from militants such as the forthright campaigner against lynching Ida B. Wells at one end of the spectrum, to the black Americans Samuel Smiles - Booker T. Washington, with many others including Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King. Fairclough doesn't ignore some of the movements (the communist party, the NAACP, the Black Panthers, etc) or events (the civil rights movement, the legal battles, the battle for integration, etc). In short he captures a good deal of the black Americans twentieth century experience and struggle for equality.

If there is a shortcoming in the book it is Fairclough can be on occasions a little wishy-washy in his narrative. Sometimes in his efforts to achieve "balance" he appears a little lame, merely repeating both sides of the argument without making a judgement, or calculating the costs and benefits of actions on the struggle for black equality. In contrast with the events he describes, Fairclough seems to be always on the look out for a silver lining, for the American system, if not for the blacks themselves. As an example consider this quote with regards to the Great Depression - "President Roosevelts vigorous leadership and evident sympathy for the "forgotten Americans" deepened the interest of everyone in politics." Did it really? Or was it the catastrophic economic depression, and the failure of the established political classes, year after year, to find a solution that caused an upsurge in Americans interest in politics? In another case he describes how Martin Luther King bowed to pressure from the Kennedy administration and dismissed two of his advisors and fellow activists who had a communist background, and then without qualification adds, "yet King was nobodies puppet."

Those shortcomings aside, Faircloughs "Better Day Coming" is an interesting narrative of the black struggle for equality in the twentieth century. His opinion may on occasions be questionable, but he does provide a full enough account in the text for the readers to ask meaningful questions of their own, and on that basis it is well worth reading. For anyone who is interested in the period of Reconstruction that immediately precedes the events described in this book, one could do no better than Eric Foners magnificent Reconstruction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2013
I got this book to read and further my studies. It is a very good and reasonably easy read. It is crammed with information so much so that i had to make notes at the end so most pages! Would really recommend this book, although he seems very opinionated in some aspects.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2003
Faircloughs book offers a suberb discourse on the struggle for equaltity that blacks underwent in 20th century America following the events of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The accounts of black leaders and organisations are very interesting and authoritative, and extremely useful to anyone interested in this particular historical topic. The only qualm I would have with this book is that the title says 1890-2000, but there is little information supplied on the situtaion of blacks in America after 1970.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2012
I have read many a book on the CRM during my time as a student of modern American history but this book tops them all. Engaging, in-depth, a perfect read for those familiar or unfamiliar with the crm.
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on 4 July 2015
I had to read this for my A2 history course and to be honest I wasn't expecting much. So I was very pleasantly surprised to discover how interesting and well written this book is - I couldn't put it down!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2014
I thought it was excellent, extremely detailed and proved helpful with my coursework
Definitely worth buying, trust me ! X
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on 1 June 2015
thanks
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2015
An easy, comprehensive read. Fairclough brings clarity to what is a deeply moving and complex topic.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2003
its well written but does tend to be somewhat un exciting. but a good book with loads crammed in and easy to read.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2013
This book is new and in perfect condition. It is an essential piece of work for my studies at the moment.
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