The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America

The Civil War Draft Riots have gone from one of the most under-studied events to a potentially over-studied one. A new book by Barnet Schecter, "The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America," doesn't exactly shed new light on the riots, at least for those who know the key events already: In July of 1863, Irish and other laborers angry at the prospect of being drafted to fight in the U.S. Civil War took out their rage on New York's African Americans as well as the city's elite. In recent years, Peter Quinn and Kevin Baker have written brilliant historical novels about the riots, while historians have pored over the events as well, culminating in the full-blown Hollywood treatment Martin Scorsese gave the riots in Gangs of New York. Schecter, author of The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution, is at his best when he uses the riots as a way to explore broader national events of the Civil War era. ($28 / 448 pages / Walker)

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