Reconstructing the Civil War


Libertarians hate slavery, and libertarians hate war. So how should libertarians feel about a war that freed America's slaves?

Since 1996, the most nuanced response to that question has been Jeffrey Rogers Hummel's Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men (Open Court), a study of the Civil War that drew praise from academic historians for its scholarly rigor and from radical libertarians for its uncompromising critique of both the Union and the Confederacy. Hummel's book is effective not just as an argument for a relatively rare position—antiwar abolitionism—but as a general guide to an important chapter of our history.

Now there is a second edition. In a new introduction, Hummel replies to some of his critics, discusses several recent Civil War books, and notes a couple of places where new data has supplanted his original claims. But he has no reason, he writes, "to alter significantly my interpretations and arguments." —Jesse Walker