Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas lends his prestige to a liberal-nded recounting of those aspects of Civil War and reconstruction history that bear the Negro's role in American society. Eminently creditable as history, the book raws frequently on letters and public documents of the times, and its interpretations seem well supported by these original sources. Unfortunately, little of this new, and the text is both slight and confusing. Most chapters are tied in to some fragment of Lincoln's second Inaugural Address -- a device that imposes arbitrary chronological reshufflings of material and adds little of the sense of immediacy it was meant to convey. Still, it need scarcely be said that the subject important, the author's views are hotly contested in some quarters, and the aftermath of the Civil War if often told, remains as tragic a story as ever. This should be useful supplementary reading for young students of American history.