• Thaddeus Stevens

  • Civil War Revolutionary, Fighter for Racial Justice
  • By: Bruce Levine
  • Narrated by: Landon Woodson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Thaddeus Stevens

By: Bruce Levine
Narrated by: Landon Woodson
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Publisher's Summary

A “powerful” (The Wall Street Journal) biography of one of the 19th century’s greatest statesmen, encompassing his decades-long fight against slavery and his postwar struggle to bring racial justice to America.

Thaddeus Stevens was among the first to see the Civil War as an opportunity for a second American revolution - a chance to remake the country as a genuine multiracial democracy. As one of the foremost abolitionists in Congress in the years leading up to the war, he was a leader of the young Republican Party’s radical wing, fighting for anti-slavery and anti-racist policies long before party colleagues like Abraham Lincoln endorsed them. These policies - including welcoming black men into the Union’s armies - would prove crucial to the Union war effort.

During the Reconstruction era that followed, Stevens demanded equal civil and political rights for Black Americans - rights eventually embodied in the 14th and 15th amendments. But while Stevens in many ways pushed his party - and America - towards equality, he also championed ideas too radical for his fellow Congressmen ever to support, such as confiscating large slaveholders’ estates and dividing the land among those who had been enslaved.

In Thaddeus Stevens, acclaimed historian Bruce Levine has written a “vital” (The Guardian), “compelling” (James McPherson) biography of one of the most visionary statesmen of the 19th century and a forgotten champion for racial justice in America.

©2021 Bruce Levine. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Bruce Levine...restores [Stevens] fully to his place in the American pantheon.... A fitting monument to one of the most formidable gladiators ever to stride the halls of Congress.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“At last, Thaddeus Stevens, one of the nineteenth century’s greatest proponents of racial justice, gets the biography he deserves. Drawing on a career of scholarly engagement with the Civil War era, Bruce Levine expertly relates how Stevens navigated the currents of the Second American Revolution, how he helped to bring about the destruction of slavery and was a leader in the effort during Reconstruction to make the United States a biracial democracy. We need Stevens’ passion for equality today.” (Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

“He was called everything from Robin Hood to Robespierre to evil genius to fanatic and worse. He was a 'radical' in a time when that was not always derogatory. This book reveals in many dimensions a Thaddeus Stevens, who with vicious wit and shrewd political skill, was a primary founder of the second American republic. Through deep understanding of all the contexts of the Civil War era and vivid writing, Bruce Levine gives us the best biography of this towering figure yet written, and a timely story about the power of racial equality.” (David W. Blight, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

What listeners say about Thaddeus Stevens

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Excellent bio of a political hero

As discussed in the beginning of the book, Thaddeus Stevens’ name has been dragged though the mud of history by revisionists and sympathizers of oppression. This book is a revealing and honest look at an imperfect yet uniquely admirable man who persisted through the uniquely grotesque business of American politics. This book reveals in both its critiques and its praise for Stevens that he was a true hero, not because he was perfect, but because, through his imperfections, he was consistently growing and evolving.

The reader’s performance was excellent. He was compelling all the way through. I can’t recommend this book highly enough to anyone interested in 19th century America or its politics.

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Intelligent and add new insights to the discourse

I highly recommend this audiobook. The author knows what he’s talking about and presents a new and original perspective on the very important issues connected with Thaddeus Steven’s role in reconstruction.
The narrator is excellent too

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The fight for racial justice is still being waged in 2021!

The fortitude of Steven’s was inspiring and the ebb and flow of the fight for racial justice has application today! I knew of Steven’s but can not more fully appreciate his efforts.

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Well done

Thaddeus Stevens

By Bruce Levine

Stevens was an American statesman who staked out his abolitionist position early and stuck to it. I had always wanted to know more about him, and other leaders of his time.

Mr. Levine did an excellent job detailing Mr. Stevens’ life and his passionate actions for America.

It is good to learn about politicians who act for the good of the people and not for party politics.

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A fighter for liberty

I loved this tale about a great defender of liberty. The abolition of slavery and the advancement of human equality ultimately required both a cool moral pragmatist like Abraham Lincoln as well as a hot, passionate revolutionary like Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens drove the cause with his fierce, unrelenting advocacy and Lincoln helped achieved its partial victory by his cool assessment of what is possible at a given time.

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You should read

A unique American figure that more should be known about. A politician who pushed Americana to make the right decisions regarding equality. It could be said he was ahead of his time, but I believe he would have said America was far behind where it should have been.