April 1865
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April 1865
Jay Winik
History
Aug 3, 2018
As Jay Winik sees it (and as you are likely to see it, too, once you’ve reached the end of his gripping narrative history), April 1865 was “a month that could have unraveled the American nation. Instead, it saved it.” The darkest moment in its calendar of crises was the death of Abraham Lincoln. Since no president had ever been assassinated, there had never been a transfer of presidential power under such precarious circumstances. Further complicating the situation was the fact that the new chief executive, former Vice President Andrew Johnson, had a reputation as a drunkard; he had been so little regarded by Lincoln that the two had met only once since their inaugurations nearly six weeks earlier. There was also General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox to Union General Ulysses S. Grant as well as Grant’s remarkably generous treatment of the defeated foe. In short, these thirty days—“marked by tumult and bloodshed, heroism and desperation, freedom and defeat, military prowess and diplomatic magnanimity, jubilation and sorrow, and, finally, by individual and national agony and joy”—provide material as weighty as any writer could wish, and Winik does it justice in his engrossing and richly detailed work.
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Apr 15, 2020
Well written
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