“Joe Richardson’s Christian Reconstruction is a solid addition to historical scholarship on the work of Yankee missionaries among the freedmen during the Civil War and Reconstruction. . . . Without question, this is the most comprehensive history of the American Missionary Association (AMA), and no one has uncovered as much detailed information on any other Northern aid society. Rich in detail and strongly recommended, the book argues that the AMA struggled to prepare the liberated slaves for civil and political equality by freeing them of the shackles of ignorance, superstition and sin.This book ought to be read by all those interested in Northern educational and social reformers in the Reconstruction South.”
--The Journal of American History
“In an extraordinarily balanced study Richardson has synthesized a wealth of sources and research to produce a thoroughly convincing interpretation of the AMA and southern blacks. Besides exploring relations between the two, his main objective has been to assess the AMA’s effectiveness in bringing blacks into the American mainstream. Because of his successful labors, we now have a much-needed comprehensive study of that most influential missionary organization. Whether addressing conflicts between the AMA and the US military over the treatment of contrabands, charges of racism among black and white missionaries, or the quality of association colleges, Richardson does not allow his obvious admiration for the AMA to interfere. . . . With bold logic and considerable subtlety Richardson has made an impressive contribution.
--The Journal of Southern History