Hymns of the Republic

The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 14 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.8 out of 5 stars (224 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling, celebrated, and award-winning author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell comes the spellbinding, epic account of the dramatic conclusion of the Civil War.

The fourth and final year of the Civil War offers one of that era’s most compelling narratives, defining the nation and one of history’s great turning points. Now, S.C. Gwynne’s Hymns of the Republic addresses the time Ulysses S. Grant arrives to take command of all Union armies in March 1864 to the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox a year later. He breathes new life into the epic battle between Lee and Grant; the advent of 180,000 black soldiers in the Union army; William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea; the rise of Clara Barton; the election of 1864 (which Lincoln nearly lost); the wild and violent guerrilla war in Missouri; and the dramatic final events of the war, including the surrender at Appomattox and the murder of Abraham Lincoln. 

Hymns of the Republic offers angles and insights on the war that will surprise many listeners. Robert E. Lee, known as a great general and southern hero, is presented here as a man dealing with frustration, failure, and loss. Ulysses S. Grant is known for his prowess as a field commander, but in the final year of the war he largely fails at that. His most amazing accomplishments actually began the moment he stopped fighting. William Tecumseh Sherman, Gwynne argues, was a lousy general, but probably the single most brilliant man in the war. We also meet a different Clara Barton, one of the greatest and most compelling characters, who redefined the idea of medical care in wartime. And proper attention is paid to the role played by large numbers of black union soldiers - most of them former slaves. They changed the war and forced the South to come up with a plan to use its own black soldiers. 

Popular history at its best, with Hymns of the Republic Gwynne reveals the creation that arose from the destruction in this thrilling listen.

©2019 S. C. Gwynne (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about Hymns of the Republic

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Questionable

I would caution anyone before reading this work to look to other books on the period first. I loved this author’s previous work entitled “Empire of the summer moon“ but this work is another matter altogether. The author spends a great deal of time lambasting nearly everyone he comes across and in very personal terms. All of the usual blunders are here but he also slashes away at battles and events and makes judgments about how they were fought in ways that many professional historians could argue with successfully. I found particularly troubling his arm chair psychological insights into the reasons behind actions taken by individuals while offering little to no rationale for these. I would invite him to look at Barbara Tuchman‘s statement concerning… The historian becoming a prophet. I also didn’t care for his personal swipes at The wives of both Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln. Mary Lincoln was a troubled woman and this has been well documented. Lee’s wife was a southern aristocrat used to getting her way. Neither of these facts are in any doubt but I did not care for the language that the author chose to describe them. Both of these descriptions smacked of the modern left-wing intellectual looking down his nose and applying modern standards to historical personages. It’s both unnecessary and in this case quite crude. Lastly I found it interesting that the first half of the book sees Ulysses S. Grant portrayed as something just shy of an idiot and in the second half he seems somehow to just get it all together and become a competent and even great general. The author does treat Clara Barton well and I learned some things that I did not know about her. His descriptions of southern racism and of the atrocities committed by southern soldiers against African-American soldiers are important and deserve to be read and remembered. The work is not bad. But I feel that the author should have limited his opinions or maybe greater effort to back them up with documentary evidence and kept his impressions of what was going on in the minds of both soldiers and civilians to himself unless he could point to letters, journal entries or some other means of documentation to back them up. If he did have such documentation he should have included it.

8 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Story of the End of the Civil War

This is the third book by this author that I have read. He never disappoints. As with the other two books I have read, this book establishes the context of the last year of the war. I would say that there are three main characters: Lincoln, Grant, and Lee. There are secondary characters as well that do not go ignored. The book reads like a novel and that keeps it entertaining. The narrator does a very nice job that keeps the book interesting. I learned a great deal from reading the book. The Civil War was a special kind of hell for our country. That comes across in the book. The author does not avoid the complex issues of race and slavery. He points out that the oversimplifications of the causes of the war (states’ rights or slavery) need to be looked at in the light of many other factors. I can recommend this book to any person who wants to know how the last year of the Civil War put our country in a horrendous environment that we still feel.

4 people found this helpful

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Great Read, I wish Author would have read

A big fan of authors reading their own books. Great story and like the secondary stories Gwynne offers, especially Barton’s.

1 person found this helpful

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Republic

I found this book very informative about the civil War. I found the book having a great deal of detail with excellent narration, on history that I had not heard before.

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Amazing Must Read

I am a history buff and I learned so much about so many individual’s life’s and feel like I was there in the room and on the battlefield as we moved through the timelines. The effort and historical information was covered well and even some of the stories that sound like history but never happened were covered and explained.

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Excellent

Content is outstanding, the reading did not appeal to know for no particular reason. It never stopped me from listening, but I was always aware of it.

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Evan's Review

Great book if you are a Civil War enthusiast this book is for. It hard to believe that I have after reading many books books on the Civil War I still learn something new. Since the book is last year of the war the author brings in many facts that others books dont also he bring factors that bring war to the last year.

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Great synopsis, but of course missing details

The book is a great review of the last year of the war, especially to a person not familiar with the conflict. The Author completely forgets the last surrender of confederate forces which was done by Native American Stand Watie. It also ignored the surrender of the CSS Shenandoah.

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Wow!!!

I’m just absolutely blown away by this book! Tears have now filled my eyes and I am left simply astounded by Mr. Gwynn’s writing. I cannot recommend this book enough! The passages featuring Clara Barton are nothing short of extraordinary. Bravo, bravo, bravo!

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Amazing!

One of the most thoroughly researched novels I’ve ever read. The nuance of historical events allows you to understand events and figures of history as human beings and thus the imperfect outcomes and decisions of those events are well understood. Few books have presented a better, well rounded and true depiction of what life was like during these years.