Slaves, Tolkien, Tuchman, art; Slavery and Freedom, by Willie Rose Lee, edited by William W. Freehling. New York: Oxford University Press. 254 pp. $7.95.

A scholarly, lucid, balanced collection of essays, book reviews, and speeches - dispassionate, yet wrenching. Rose examines how history is often rewritten to suit the temper of the times, and punctures some staunchly held myths in the process.

Her essays on childhood in servitude and on the Reconstruction are moving and credible. The complex psychology of slaveholders, expertly portrayed, reclaims these people from the realm of legend. There are no simple villains in this book.

The essays on popular culture and historical fiction are trenchant and illuminating.

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