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1861: The Civil War Awakening | [Adam Goodheart]

1861: The Civil War Awakening

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2011 Adam Goodheart (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner, History, 2012

“With boundless verve, Adam Goodheart has sketched an uncommonly rich tableau of America on the cusp of the Civil War. The research is impeccable, the cast of little-known characters we are introduced to is thoroughly fascinating, the book is utterly thought-provoking, and the story is luminescent. What a triumph.” (Jay Winik, author of New York Times best-sellers April 1865 and The Great Upheaval)

"Engrossing .... Tension is palpable on every page .... Goodheart's book is an impressive accomplishment, a delightful read, and a valuable contribution that will entertain and challenge." (Harvard Magazine)

"Exhilarating ... inspiring ... irresistible ... 1861 creates the uncanny illusion that the reader has stepped into a time machine." (New York Times Book Review, cover review)

"In his marvelous book... Goodheart brings us into 19th-century America, as ambiguous, ambitious and fractured as the times we live in now, and he brings to pulsing life the hearts and minds of its American citizens." (Huffington Post)

“Jonathan Davis's narration sets the scene with hints of foreboding, creating a feeling of tension about the impending war. He draws listeners into stories of people like recaptured slave Lucy Bagby and future president James Garfield….Goodheart's meticulous research and lively writing will appeal to any history buff.” (AudioFile)

"Beautifully written and thoroughly original--quite unlike any other Civil War book out there." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 01-21-12
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 01-21-12 Member Since 2011

    "fabric artist and quilter"

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    "Prelude to the war"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tad Davis 06-28-11
    Tad Davis 06-28-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Original, detailed, fascinating"

    Wide-ranging history, using the first year of the war as a framework for a much larger narrative. There are many familiar names here (Lincoln and Douglas and Jefferson Davis, of course); but also many I hadn't heard before: for example, Lucy Bagby, a slave who escaped, was recaptured, and later liberated by the Union army; Thomas Starr King (a transcendentalist and anti-secession orator); and Asbury Harpending, a privateer and pro-Confederacy adventurer. Other people, familiar as names, become living personalities here: Jessie Benton Fremont, Benjamin "Spoons" Butler, Nathaniel Lyon, Franz Sigel, James Garfield. One notable incident, the burning of part of Hampton, is something I knew nothing about, despite having lived in Hampton for four years. A really interesting and original book.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 08-10-12
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 08-10-12 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

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    "Exactly what history books should be"

    The best history you can find, the most engaging and educational, are books that make the history happen now, that make it come alive and that present the people involved as real humans with real difficulties and differences of opinion. 1861, by that standard, is one of the best history books I've ever read.

    This is not about battles, but about the great debate waged in politics, in livings rooms, on lecture circuits, in the halls of Congress, and on every street corner. We learn about the organizations that marched, the editorials written, the reasons given for southerners splitting off from the US, and for the Northerners who wanted to let them leave and those who wanted to fight to keep them.

    We see our Civil War as a morality play acted out on domestic soil, with a right and wrong side. But history is so much more interesting than that. There were dozens of sides and views to the issues that split our country apart and this book examins them in detail. If I had a criticism, I would say this book doesn't examine the characters of the south in very much detail. It discusses all the moral, legal and economic reasons they gave for splitting away, but I wanted to see so much more. That however, happens with the best books, doesnt it. You just want it to be longer, to never end. And this is one of the best books I've read.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy Powell, OH, United States 06-13-12
    Jimmy Powell, OH, United States 06-13-12 Member Since 2014

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Play by Play of USA's Tumultuous 1861:"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Nedreberg Eureka, Utah 10-01-11
    Thomas Nedreberg Eureka, Utah 10-01-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Amazing Book"

    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..."

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pegeen 03-16-13
    Pegeen 03-16-13

    reading is pure joy

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    "you think you know all about the Civil War -- but"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The writing and use of primary sources make this a book I would recommend to perfect strangers on the street, and of course my friends.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    History of the people important and influential at their time and moment. Mentions all the big players but scurries up close to draw out the "ordinary" people , dispelling some generalizations made in other histories of this event and time. Liked the small vignette of the pony express rider flying past the men heading west from Fort Churchill (hope I have recalled the correct fort now days later after listening in the car on I-5) ) with the wooden poles for the transcontinental telegraph. This is just one example of the exactness and usefulness of the detail in this book.


    Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Perfect. Clarity of diction and the dash of emotion needed for conveying this harrowing and momentous time.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Three parts, I-5 = I almost did! but YES.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sher from Provo Utah 11-12-13
    Sher from Provo Utah 11-12-13 Member Since 2015

    tired teacher

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    "So Many Things Make Sense Now"

    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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda SACRAMENTO, CA, United States 08-20-12
    Linda SACRAMENTO, CA, United States 08-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Compelling and fascinating wide-angle view"
    Would you consider the audio edition of 1861: The Civil War Awakening to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What does Jonathan Davis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I think his 'voices' through the narrative helped to bring the stories to life.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 07-13-12
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 07-13-12 Member Since 2010

    sam_perera

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    "Stupendous!"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rupe 05-27-12
    Rupe 05-27-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A very interesting presentation..."

    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,

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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