From one of our most acclaimed new biographers - the first full life of the leader of Lincoln’s "team of rivals" to appear in more than 40 years. William Henry Seward was one of the most important Americans of the 19th century. Progressive governor of New York and outspoken U.S. senator, he was the odds-on favorite to win the 1860 Republican nomination for president. As secretary of state and Lincoln’s closest adviser during the Civil War, Seward not only managed foreign affairs but had a substantial role in military, political, and personnel matters.
Some of Lincoln’s critics even saw Seward, erroneously, as the power behind the throne; this is why John Wilkes Booth and his colleagues attempted to kill Seward as well as Lincoln. Seward survived the assassin’s attack, continued as secretary of state, and emerged as a staunch supporter of President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s controversial successor. Through his purchase of Alaska ("Seward’s Folly"), and his groundwork for the purchase of the Canal Zone and other territory, Seward set America on course to become a world empire.
Seward was not only important, he was fascinating. Most nights this well-known raconteur with unruly hair and untidy clothes would gather diplomats, soldiers, politicians, or actors around his table to enjoy a cigar, a drink, and a good story. Drawing on hundreds of sources not available to or neglected by previous biographers, Walter Stahr sheds new light on this complex and central figure, as well as on pivotal events of the Civil War and its aftermath.
©2012 Walter Stahr (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Walter Stahr’s biography of William Henry Seward is well researched and well written. Stahr has gone into detail about Seward’s life and he has done a good job presenting an unbiased view. He has pointed out common reports and proves they are false or true. Stahr also has gone into detail about opposing viewpoints about Seward, tells us what he can prove and what he cannot thereby allowing the reader to make up their own minds on the issue. Seward was an interesting man. He was a successful lawyer in Auburn, New York he appeared to be interested in politics from an early age. He was a New York state senator in 1830, was governor of New York in 1869 and a Federal Senator. In 1860 he became Lincoln’s Secretary of State. I found it interesting that he was so involved in domestic issues as the Secretary of State. Of course, he did work hard on foreign issues such as working to keep England and France from recognizing the Confederacy. He kept the U.S. from being involved with fighting in Mexico to kick out the French and Austrians. He helped remove them by diplomacy. I was unaware that there were other attempted assassinations when Booth killed Lincoln. Seward was injured in a horse carriage accident and had a fractured jaw and shoulder and was home in bed when the assassin stabbed him in neck and jaw. Family members pulled the man off him before he was able to complete his job. Seward is famous as the man who bought Alaska but most of the information provided in the book was new knowledge for me. William Dufris did a good job in narrating the book. If you are interested in history this is a book for you.
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