The Civil War Awakening
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As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of our defining national drama, 1861 presents a gripping and original account of how the Civil War began.
1861 is an epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields. Early in that fateful year, a second American revolution unfolded, inspiring a new generation to reject their parents’ faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal. It set Abraham Lincoln on the path to greatness and millions of slaves on the road to freedom.
The book introduces us to a heretofore little-known cast of Civil War heroes—among them an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer’s wife, an idealistic band of German immigrants, a regiment of New York City firemen, a community of Virginia slaves, and a young college professor who would one day become president. Adam Goodheart takes us from the corridors of the White House to the slums of Manhattan, from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the deserts of Nevada, from Boston Common to Alcatraz Island, vividly evoking the Union at this moment of ultimate crisis and decision.
From the Hardcover edition.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
1861 tremendous read
1861 is fantastic. It is one of those "can't put it down" books. 1861 tells the story of the lead up to the Civil War much like 1776 tells the story of the lead up to the Revolutionary War (although 1776 focuses more on the military side whereas 1861 focuses on the evolving attitudes among the Union - in general - towards the war). It's difficult to convey this message in only 460 pages but Goodheart does a wonderful job.
The firsthand accounts do a particularly nice job showing how people viewed the conflict as war approached. Ranging from future President James Garfield as a young Ohioan legislator/professor to an everyday Californian writing to his sister in Maine regarding his renewed support for the Union, common themes emerge that create a lightbulb moment for the reader.
You will enjoy this book, I know I did.