In this provocative novel of reconstruction and race, a Civil War veteran tries to create a new utopia in his Southern hometown after gaining enlightenment and riches in the North.
Revolutionary in both its storyline and its storytelling, The Colonel’s Dream was one of the most progressive books of its time when it was first published in 1905. Few authors of African descent created white protagonists, but Charles Chesnutt did just that, exploring the economic and social conditions of freed slaves through the eyes of Colonel French, a former Confederate officer. Returning to his impoverished hometown after years as a successful businessman in the North, French attempts to revitalize the community and improve living conditions for a vibrant cast of characters living there, including his old servant and an ambitious young woman. Despite his hopes, French faces roadblocks at every turn, including a corrupt convict-leasing system that essentially re-enslaves many of the town’s black residents. With a new, no-holds barred Introduction by the incomparable Ishmael Reed, The Colonel’s Dream offers a prophetic perspective on modern issues of multiculturalism and economic disparity, making it a keystone in American literature and history.