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Eric Foner is one of the preeminent US historians, particularly for the period of the 1800s involving slavery, the Civil War, & Reconstruction. His latest book is Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, which follows The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln & American Slavery. Both are invaluable tools to understanding the dynamics of the USA that led to our current racial tensions.
Related on-line resources include Sydney Howard Gay's Record of Fugitives and Eric Foner's free on-line ColumbiaX course on the Civil War and Reconstruction.