I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.
Adam Goodheart does an excellent job of making you feel like you are there, right beside the other participants, in this incredibly immense and polarized year of 1861 in the United States.
I could not be more impressed with the attention to detail, as Goodheart's ability to craft scenes allows the emotions of the moment to transfer to the reader some 150 year later. Literally, I got "goose-bumps" during certain exchanges between President Lincoln and his detractors. It could not be more amazing his foresight against the backdrop of history.
I highly recommend this book, and I am certain you will realize there is much you don't know about the events that led to the Civil War. In addition, I promise a change in perspective on both this era in history and the people involved.
I find this book is best at 2x speed.
The Civil War didn't start in 1861 and it didn't end in 1865. The war started before our Revolutionary War and is still being fought today throughout our nation. It was great to be able to listen to this book and see that the war wasn't a black and white event but was an example of the constant give and take we have still today. The book was just a slice in time of our constant struggle as a nation to realize what it means to be "We the People..."
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
"This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures from necessity, this is the leading object of the government for whose existence we contend."
-- Abraham Lincoln's First Message to Congress, at the Special Session. July 4, 1861.
One of the best histories I've read during the last couple years. I went in knowing, kinda, what I was getting into. '1861' was published in 2011 150 years after the start of the Civil War. Obviously, it was going to be about the start of the Civil War, duh. But the book is more than that. It is chapter, by chapter, a series of vignettes that try to capture the complexity and details of our nation at then start of the Civil War, during that fateful year.
One chapter focuses on Major Robert Anderson and the officers and men who held Ft Sumter. Another chapter explores the 1861 from the perspective of James Garfield, an Ohio professor and preacher, later General and President, Another chapter follows Elmer Ellsworth, a charismatic Ohio youth who becomes a Colonel in charge of a flashy group of recruits modeled on the French Zouaves. Another beautifully written chapter relates the experiences of Jessie Fremont and the young reverend Thomas Starr King, who passionate Californian's who were largely responsible for keeping California in the Union.
The book is filled with these stories, amazing all, that weave together like a giant flag or tapestry of our history. It isn't a book of battles as much as it is a book of people and one year. This is a book that couple be optioned seven or eight times. I can imagine several of these single chapters being made into amazing movies, but still, it seems impossible that any movie, or other art form could capture the elements found within this book as artistically and beautifully as Adam Goodhearted did with this masterful classic.
This book put so many things about the beginnings of the civil war into perspective for me. I really did not know many of these things. It helps me make sense of it all. Of course, no war makes sense, but now I can see better how it came to be. For example, I never really understood about Fort Sumpter, and now I do. I think I had it backwards in my mind, something like the north firing on the south who were in the fort. Truth is, it is exactly the opposite of that. I also did not realize the role California, Kansas and other non-southern states played in the war. I certainly never understood how Lincoln's view of slavery and the war changed over time. I did not realize that the war was, at least outwardly, not about abolition, but about state's rights. As time went on, it had to be about slavery. How could half of the country fight for freedom and then turn around and approve slavery for the other half of the country? And many more interesting things. I really want to read this book again sometime. I am sure it will be even better the second time.
I haven't read the print version of 1861. I found the audio version to be completely satisfactory. I do listen to all audio books at 1 1/2 time, however.
I liked the sweeping narrative of events, political, military, social, and cultural that impacted how people regarded secession and the coming of war and the end of slavery. I thought it was very insightful and added greatly to my understanding of the era.
I think his 'voices' through the narrative helped to bring the stories to life.
I was moved by many things, and I did find the story of Jessie B. Fremont sending violets to be laid on Thomas Starr King's funeral casket very sad and touching. Also, the story of the three slaves who first arrived at Fortress Monroe and the hundreds who came there and elsewhere seeking freedom was unforgettable.
1861 is an important addition to Civil War history. I think for historians and general readers interested in this period of American history it adds a lot of texture and context of the national mood across the country. Also, it brings so many other people into the story that we don't usually read about except in their individual biographies. How they interacted and the affect of their actions or writings on policy and opinion gave me new insights, including the story of Anderson and the Union troops who defended Fort Sumter against all odds. this book has inspired me to read more deeply about this period of American history.
This is an extraordinary story of individuals in an extraordinary time of our nation. I was naïve of the Civil War and lacked the meaning of the struggle for emancipation until I experienced this book. The author handsomely illuminates the ideology held by key players of the era leading to the eventual war of the States. It is clearly slanted towards the North (as it should be), and detail clearly the various sub-plots in the secessionist and non-secessionist thinking. I was particularly moved by the fate of Elmer Ellsworth and his Zouaves. Little did I know of the Wide Awakes movement or its pivotal role in St. Louis. This book details the entire sentiment of the time leading to the conflict. Definitely in the same league as the ‘Guns of August’ by Barbara Tuchman.
I enjoyed the way the author brought out overlooked and forgotten details and persons leading up to the civil war. Ultimately it was all about a country that needed to move forward out it's own shame of slavery. How is it that disgusting evil can be so tenacious? As I grow older I am amazed at how short 150 years really is and I hope this country continues to move forward though I doubt we will ever experience such a social giant step as we did then. And yes it is a reminder of the greatness of Lincoln and leaves me wondering about the shallowness of modern day republicans,
I loved the way that the author takes a snapshot of 1861, giving you not only the history, but the mood and tone of this tumultuous year.
Well, I think most people know how 1861 ends... or begins.
It is read very well, and dramatically.
No, its way too long for one sitting. You would be worn out if you did.
For the serious historian, this is not really eye opening. But the very specific and unique stories told are interesting. I was most interested in the James Garfield piece. It made me want to read up on this guy. It seemed like an out of place story, but it was great anyway.
As as Australian, most of what I know of the Civil War in America has been gained from movies such as Gone With The Wind and tv series like North and South. It was very interesting to hear the facts that led to the war between the states and to learn more about Abraham Lincoln. I really enjoyed this book.
"fabric artist and quilter"
The author presents the lead up to the war with explanations of incidents and the characters involved. Its fascinating and riveting stuff although a bit of background knowledge of the war is required. A great listen and well read by Jonathan Davis.