Professor Foner's publications have concentrated on the intersections of intellectual, political and social history, and the history of American race relations. His best-known books are: Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1970; reissued with new preface 1995) Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (1976); Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy (1983); Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988) (winner, among other awards, of the Bancroft Prize, Parkman Prize, and Los Angeles Times Book Award and soon to be reissued with a new preface); The Reader's Companion to American History (with John A. Garraty, 1991); The Story of American Freedom (1998); and Who Owns History? Rethinking the Past in a Changing World (2002). His survey textbook of American history, Give Me Liberty! An American History and a companion volume of documents, Voices of Freedom, appeared in 2004. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (winner, among other awards, of the Bancroft Prize, Pulitzer Prize for History, and The Lincoln Prize) was published in the fall of 2010. His latest book, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, was published early in 2015 and the following year was awarded the American History Book Prize by the New-York Historical Society. His books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.
In 2007, a group of Professor Foner's former graduate students published Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race, and Power in American History, edited by Manisha Sinha and Penny Von Eschen, a collection of essays, or "festschrift," in his honor.
Foner's works have been highly praised in scholarly journals and by reviews in periodicals across the political spectrum. In The Nation, Theodore Rosengarten wrote that Reconstruction is "monumental in scope ... a feat of research and synthesis that is not likely to be repeated for a generation." The introduction to a recent collection of essays on the Civil War era refers to Reconstruction as "one of the masterworks of the historical profession." Robert H. Ferrell, in the National Review declared that The Story of American Freedom "approaches brilliance." Of The Fiery Trial, Gordon Berg observed in Civil War Times, "looking for flaws in an Eric Foner book is like looking for flaws in the Hope Diamond; it is a fool's errand." In the Los Angeles Times, Wendy Smith wrote of Gateway to Freedom, "intellectually probing and emotionally resonant, [it] reminds us that history can be as stirring as the most gripping fiction."
In a recent book review, Professor Steven Hahn of the University of Pennsylvania wrote of Eric Foner: "Like his mentor Richard Hofstadter, he has had an enormous influence on how other historians, as well as a good cut of the general reading public, have come to think about American history. This is the result of his voluminous scholarship and of his decades as a teacher. Indeed, when one considers the chronological and topical range of Foner's many books and essays--not to mention those of his doctoral students--only Hofstadter, C. Vann Woodward, David Brion Davis, and, in an earlier era, Charles Beard (who was also at Columbia) would seem to be his genuine rivals in impact and accomplishment." On a somewhat different note, the Oklahoma Gazette recently wrote of a lecture by Professor Foner at Oklahoma University, "suffice it to say that his giving a free lecture on OU's campus is just really, incredibly, super cool."
During the 2014-15 academic year, Professor Foner's Columbia University course on The Civil War and Reconstruction was made available online, free of charge, via ColumbiaX and EdX. Here are links to the lectures (divided into segments); they can also be found on YouTube::
VIEW SESSION AT ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN HISTORIANS ANNUAL MEETING ON ERIC FONER'S "RECONSTRUCTION AT 25"
© 2005 Eric Foner | wonderwheel