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Publisher's Summary

In a single definitive narrative, City of Sedition tells the spellbinding story of the huge - and hugely conflicted - role New York City played in the Civil War.

No city was more of a help to Abraham Lincoln and the Union war effort - or more of a hindrance. No city raised more men, money, and matériel for the war, and no city raised more hell against it. It was a city of patriots, war heroes, and abolitionists but simultaneously a city of antiwar protest, draft resistance, and sedition.

Without his New York supporters, it's highly unlikely Lincoln would have made it to the White House. Yet because of the city's vital and intimate business ties to the Cotton South, the majority of New Yorkers never voted for him and were openly hostile to him and his politics. Throughout the war New York City was a nest of antiwar "Copperheads" and a haven for deserters and draft dodgers. New Yorkers would react to Lincoln's wartime policies with the deadliest rioting in American history. The city's political leaders would create a bureaucracy solely devoted to helping New Yorkers evade service in Lincoln's army. Rampant war profiteering would create an entirely new class of New York millionaires, the "shoddy aristocracy". New York newspapers would be among the most vilely racist and vehemently antiwar in the country. Some editors would call on their readers to revolt and commit treason; a few New Yorkers would answer that call. They would assist Confederate terrorists in an attempt to burn their own city down and collude with Lincoln's assassin.

Here, in City of Sedition, a gallery of fascinating New Yorkers comes to life - the likes of Horace Greeley, Walt Whitman, Julia Ward Howe, Boss Tweed, Thomas Nast, Matthew Brady, and Herman Melville. This book follows the fortunes of these figures and chronicles how many New Yorkers seized the opportunities the conflict presented to amass capital, create new industries, and expand their markets, laying the foundation for the city's - and the nation's - growth.

©2016 John Strausbaugh (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"John Strausbaugh's new work opens the door...as no book has done before. Deeply researched and written with flair by an acknowledged authority on the history of the metropolis, City of Sedition leaves no doubt that 150 years ago New York was already 'a helluva town'." (William C. Davis, author of Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee - the War They Fought, the Peace They Forged)
"What a terrific job! Strausbaugh paints New York in a vortex of treason and war, profit and chaos, idealism, energy, and murderous violence. City of Sedition is bright, urgent, and fast as a fire truck." (Richard Brookhiser, author of Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln)
"For anyone raised on the notion that, during the Civil War, the northern states stood strongly united against slavery and behind Abraham Lincoln, John Strausbaugh's insightful City of Sedition will offer a potent and engaging antidote. Training his focus on the vibrant, chaotic city of New York, Strausbaugh sheds valuable light on the ambivalence and complexity with which Civil War America responded to thorny problems of class, race, and disunion." (John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Eden's Outcasts and The Lives of Margaret Fuller)

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  • Pianoman
  • Louisville, KY United States
  • 12-02-16

Read twice...post election antidote

for those who were wringing their proverbial hands post election, i found this an eye opening and emotional account of how far we have come. it also challenges us to be vigilant and more understanding of what our brothers and sisters experienced.
narrator excellent...skillful weaving of characters throughout....they didn't teach this in high school when I was young. worth reading twice+

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Civil War buff must have.

Well read and incredible research shared by author to help me visualize some of what went on in nearby New York City at the time leading up to the Civil War.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Book

A historical story of New York City with focus during the lead to and post Civil War. It's also a story about the expansion of the city due to immigration and economic growth. It was great to hear names of streets and areas that I've walked while here.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Eye opening account of another facet of NYC's tangled history

As an avid consumer of 19th century and NYC history, this broad survey of those topics should be considered essential listening. While this does tread on ground familiar to anyone familiar with the Civil War era, it shows that every major figure of the era had deep ties to the City. George Custer, Edwin Booth (tortured brother of John Wilkes), and John Wilkes' killer Boston Corbett are among the various figures examined. If I have any criticism it is that matters stray to far from NYC at times but in the end it all ties together.
Get it.

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Interesting, But...

The story continues telling a number of myths that have proven to be false. For example, Dan Sickles didn't leave the battlefield smoking a cigar while on a stretcher. Beyond that, the last chapters veered sharply from the Civil War.

And, the narrator's mispronouncing Meagher as mere was distracting. One would hope that more substantial research by both the author and narrator would have occurred.

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I can't wait to listen to it again!

As a New Yorker, the author has given me a greater appreciation for the City. Well done!