This is a really well balanced look at the complex forces that shaped the years leading into the Civil War. For me, the most interesting part is the rather ambivalent anti-slavery position of many in the north.
The premise for this book is interesting, what were normal everyday people feeling and thinking leading up to the Civil War, however as the book goes along the author completely loses focus on what he’s writing back and it just ends up being hours upon about the evils of slavery. There are some interesting views into the lives of slaves, how much more freedom they enjoyed as opposed to what we might otherwise think – however these limited observations are surround by long segments of speculation on what slaves and owners alike might have been thinking. Isn’t this supposed to be a history book? The book is written almost entirely from a northern perspective – nothing wrong with that just know it’s very far from impartial. The final downside is how enthralled the author is with his own writing, needlessly painting and then repainting and coming back yet again to repaint the same scene. This is truly a book that could have used a good editor. In all the book was an interesting read in the places where it was original, however too much of the time it’s filled with speculation and long drawn out paragraphs trying in earnest to make you believe you’re reading a truly magnificent piece of literature – which you’re not. Still 3 out of 5 stars seems to be a fair score in my opinon.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is informative and well written. Though I have read or listened to many books about the Civil War, I still learned a great deal from this one.
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.
First book about the Great War I have found to be told from a neutral perspective. It inspired me to review the political motivations from the Northern and Southern viewpoints.
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.
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.
A good book if you are interested in the B characters in the pro-Union camp. The author writes very little about southerners and very little about happenings in the south. Bull Run gets about a page and a half but Elmer Ellsworth gets page after page. If you are looking for the vast scope of happenings in 1861 I would suggest you look elsewhere.
I was glad the book was over. It was interesting but narrow in scope.
My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.
You really have to be a history major, which I am not, to enjoy this book because there is too much inside baseball, where you get overwhelmed with information behind the glass window.
At first, I wasn't too sure in what I was getting into because it start off with personal commentary from the author, which I don't like, but if you get through the first 30 minutes, the book goes in depth on why we had a Civil War,, like slavery, religion, political events and etc.
This is not your ordinary book on war, but very detail facts on what happen to lead us to the Civil War.
Toward the end, the book became harder to process because it just goes on and on without an end.
This title should had been broken up in different volumes in a series because it just got too overwhelming to remain focus on the subject.
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.