Black Reconstruction by W. E. B. Du Bois stands as one of the most groundbreaking books in American history. Scholars have acknowledged how the book, published in 1935, and Du Bois’s arguments in it, pioneered the study of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras today. This article explores the genesis and conceptual roots of Black Reconstruction by placing them in conversation with Du Bois’s connection to World War I. For several years, Du Bois labored on a history of the Black experience in World War I that he imagined as a sequel to Black Reconstruction. Du Bois’s work on this project, informed by his personal connection to the war, shaped many of the themes and ideas at the heart of Black Reconstruction. I argue that the full meaning of Black Reconstruction is incomplete without an understanding of the impact of World War I on Du Bois’s political evolution, intellectual development, and radical approach to history.