Milton Meltzer, one of our best writers in the field of black history, handles the Reconstruction story in ["Freedom Comes to Mississippi"] with the spit and polish of a man with a message and the craftsmanship to get it told with dramatic impact. Instead of relating the story in the entire South, he concentrates upon what happened "when freedom came to Mississippi." From that, we may draw our conclusions about what happened to the South as a whole. The reader is introduced to a minimum number of people and events—but the point emerges, loud and clear: A century ago, freedom came to the black man, who experienced it for a few years—until the political bargain of 1877 between Republicans and Democrats left the whole business to be done over again a century later as the Second Reconstruction.
John K. Bettersworth, "After the War Was Over," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1971 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), July 25, 1971, p. 8.∗