On the other hand, it is grotesquely overly detailed. Like a Cecil B.
De Mille epic, it features a cast of thousands. So many units are dis-
cussed and so many commanders are analyzed that the reader's mind
is boggled and overawed. There are over twenty maps in the book,
but they cannot be pulled out (unfolded) to trace the action described
in perhaps twenty pages of text. The author has an annoying habit of
referring to a commander after first mention as "the Marylander,"
"the Virginian," or "the Massachusetts man." Oddly enough, the
Battle of the Crater, oftentimes cited as the most spectacular phase of
the siege, is barely mentioned. It gets almost equal time with the Battle
of Popular Springs Church and the First Battle of Darbytown Road.
The work has over two hundred pages of organizational charts, end
notes, bibliography, and index.
In all, Richmond Redeemed is great, and, appropriately enough,
is a History Book Club selection. However, it should only be ap-
proached by Civil War experts, those who are deeply involved in Civil
War studies, or those who need a reference book on the Petersburg
campaign. It is definitely not recommended for the casual reader.
Texas A&M University ALLAN C. ASHCRAFT
White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South
African History. By George M. Fredrickson. (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1981. Pp. xxv+356. Introduction, chronology,
notes, index. $19.95.)
In recent years American historians have made increasingly effective
use of new or hitherto little-used methodologies to facilitate their
study of the past. They have made only sparing use, however, of one
of the most promising of those methodologies, comparative history.
The reasons for this seem apparent. Good comparative history involves
mastery of another culture and usually another language, and is most
effective when it covers long periods of time, involves multiple simi-
larities and differences, and is sensitive to nuance and complexity and
to change over time. All of this is difficult to achieve, but George M.
Fredrickson's White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American
and South African History achieves it and much more. Indeed, this is
perhaps the most effective work of comparative history published by
an American historian in recent years.
The book's emphasis is on "the attitudes, beliefs, and policies of
the dominant whites, and [on] the cumulative understanding that such
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/. Accessed May 23, 2013.