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The Impeachers

The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
Length: 14 hrs and 36 mins
5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“This absorbing and important book recounts the titanic struggle over the implications of the Civil War amid the impeachment of a defiant and temperamentally erratic American president.” (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of America)

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and Vice-President Andrew Johnson became “the Accidental President”, it was a dangerous time in America. Congress was divided over how the Union should be reunited: when and how the secessionist South should regain full status, whether former Confederates should be punished, and when and whether black men should be given the vote. Devastated by war and resorting to violence, many white Southerners hoped to restore a pre-Civil War society, if without slavery, and the pugnacious Andrew Johnson seemed to share their goals. With the unchecked power of executive orders, Johnson ignored Congress, pardoned rebel leaders, promoted white supremacy, opposed civil rights, and called Reconstruction unnecessary. It fell to Congress to stop the American president who acted like a king. 

With profound insights and making use of extensive research, Brenda Wineapple dramatically evokes this pivotal period in American history, when the country was rocked by the first-ever impeachment of a sitting American president. And she brings to vivid life the extraordinary characters who brought that impeachment forward: the willful Johnson and his retinue of advocates - including complicated men like Secretary of State William Seward - as well as the equally complicated visionaries committed to justice and equality for all, like Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and Ulysses S. Grant. Theirs was a last-ditch, patriotic, and Constitutional effort to render the goals of the Civil War into reality and to make the Union free, fair, and whole. 

Praise for The Impeachers

“In this superbly lyrical work, Brenda Wineapple has plugged a glaring hole in our historical memory through her vivid and sweeping portrayal of President Andrew Johnson’s 1868 impeachment. She serves up not simply food for thought but a veritable feast of observations on that most trying decision for a democracy: whether to oust a sitting president. Teeming with fiery passions and unforgettable characters, The Impeachers will be devoured by contemporary readers seeking enlightenment on this issue. . . . A landmark study.” (Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Grant

“A superb contribution to presidential history.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

©2019 Brenda Wineapple (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Fans of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals will appreciate how Wineapple’s narrative carries forward the saga of the men Lincoln so relied on during the Civil War.” (Booklist, starred review)

“Her arguments are novel and her prose lively. . . . This book has much to offer enthusiasts of both historical and contemporary American politics.” (Publishers Weekly

The Impeachers is a historical barn burner of a book - a vivid cast of characters caught in a terrifying and eerily familiar moment in our nation’s history. This is history of the best kind - passionate, evocative, razor-sharp, and relevant.” (Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Hurricane’s Eye)

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First rate narrative history

Tells the story of early reconstruction through a cogent, compelling narrative of Johnson’s impeachment, with wonderful mini-biographies of most of the key political players of the era.

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  • M. Berg
  • Los Angeles, CA USA
  • 06-06-19

Criticism of reader

I don’t expect a chosen reader to be extremely literate. But she mis- pronounces several words: premises which she viewed as a Latin derived word pronouncing it ending eez, and raffish, mis- pronounced as if it were spelled RAFISH. Good voice though