The author's premise seems to be that the events of 1860 and early 1861, especially the firing on Fort Sumpter, changed the northern US population from an attitude of "co-existence" with slavery to a war fever and follows that conversion through the stories of assorted individuals. While some are well known to history (for example Major Robert Anderson and James Garfield) most are unknown or little known today.
While I personally find the premise unconvincing (slavery had already radicalized much of the North by the time of the Dredd Scott decision) the stories of the individuals are themselves interesting. I have to admit that although I have read a lot about the lead-up to the Civil War and the war itself much of this information was new to me.
I have only given this book 4 stars (I would have given it 3 1/2 if I could) because I do not feel that the stories, although interesting, contributed to my knowledge of this period. There is one exception and that is the stories of the "contraband" in Virginia. I knew nothing of this event and it does much to explain the attitude of the southern slaves.
The narration is adequate but uninspired. I have heard much worse, but also much better.
yes, as long as they were interested in history, like I am. I loved how it wove together political, social and economic history by telling stories of individuals and cities, not just at the national level. I learned so much I had never heard before.
I am fascinated by history, particularly when it is from a first-person perspective (why I love historical fiction), and this story covered so much in such personal ways, I was glued to the story from beginning to end.
It was so fluid, so perfect for this kind of book - used pauses and inflections well, I never felt I was being lectured at or read a newspaper story.
Average American life on the brink of history
So much history was in this book, though not exactly limited to 1861, but a few years before and a little after. I never realized how much happened in such a short period of time. Loved this and will be listening to it again.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
Goodheart gives great insight into the events leading up to the Civil War. One would think this has been well covered by other books, but Goodheart tells the events from the perspective of everyday citizens and the thoughts and fears of the time. The Wide Awake movement was very interesting. This is a very good addendum to anyone who likes to read about the Civil War and wants to dig beneath the stories of Lincoln, Lee, Sherman and the other leaders trust into the center stage of history.
This was only my second civil war specific book, but I'm pretty fascinated by 19th century American history, and this book is one of the best I've read in that category. It's written like a compilation of behind the scenes stories that give background on the complexities of American culture and politics during this pivotal time. Adam Goodheart's writing does an incredible job of capturing the humanity of the characters in his stories, and is a master of the art of nuance. I'll begrudgingly give a thumbs up to Jonathan Davis' narration job here. I generally find his cadence a bit annoying, and his tone too official, but I must admit that he did a good job on this one, even if he's not my cup if tea stylistically. But overall, this is an excellent choice, not just for civil war buffs, but for all American history lovers.
This one almost put me to sleep. Blah, blah, blah. 1861, and the years leading up to the war and all the rhetoric is (to me), boring at best.
This really immerses you into the culture, especially that of the North, that led into the Civil War
In this evironment, the discussion of the 1860 election and background to set it up.
Hancock going in to talk to Lincoln on the eve Lincoln's first presidential/social dinner.
no, one to think about and both keep in its own context and still locate in ours.
Lincoln's patience, his lack of transparancy, until he was ready to move was quite revealing, particularying in this age of instant news bite... and realizing how he manuveered aroung those pressures in his time. certainly more room and time to manuveer but still instructive.
Sometimes it felt like "Groundhog Day" the movie -- going back over and over the same time. Fascinating to get such a complete national view of the run up to the war. Great accessible history. I would recommend it highly for anyone who simply wants to learn more about America. Staunch defenders of the South -- watch out -- the author does not allow revisionist history pretending that it wasn't about slavery. Staunch Northerners watch out too...not everyone in the North was a far-sighted abolitionist. A great read.
While the overall concept of the book is very interesting, the trivia became tedious at times.
This is without doubt the best Civil War History I've read in a long time.
Such a wonderful tapestry of different stories, filled with suspense because we know what's coming.