The era of Reconstruction was short-lived but rife with historically significant activity. The central political issues of the day, according to the author, were the future integrity of the Union, and the future status of the newly emancipated Negroes. His purpose here is to use the labor question as a prism through which to study the whole political spectrum. Equality before the law within a securely unified nation was the aim of the Radical Republicans, and class conflict ""the submerged shoal on which Radical dreams foundered."" While Republicans in Congress strove to legislate equality for the Negro in the South, labor leaders in their home districts demanded that social reconstruction be extended northward. This ""challenge from the flank"" contributed to the abrupt decline of Radical power, and the emergence of both liberals and stalwarts. Mr. Montgomery's grasp of the statistical and concrete details of his subject is as exhaustive as anyone could wish, and if for no other reason, he deserves much credit for rescuing such pioneer labor leaders as Ira Steward from their ill-deserved oblivion. Still, special.