From Publishers Weekly
Goodheart, a historian and journalist who will be writing a column on the Civil War for the New York Times online, makes sophisticated use of a broad spectrum of sources for an evocative reinterpretation of the Civil War's beginnings. Wanting to retrieve the war from recent critics who dismiss the importance of slavery in the Union's aims, he reframes the war as "not just a Southern rebellion but a nationwide revolution" to free the country of slavery and end paralyzing attempts to compromise over it. The revolution began long before the war's first shots were fired. But it worked on the minds and hearts of average whites and blacks, slaves and free men. By 1861 it had attained an irresistible momentum. Goodheart shifts focus away from the power centers of Washington and Charleston to look at the actions and reactions of citizens from Boston to New York City, from Hampton Roads, Va., to St. Louis, Mo., and San Francisco, emphasizing the cultural, rather than military, clash between those wanting the country to move forward and those clinging to the old ways. War would be waged for four bitter years, with enduring seriousness, intensity, and great heroism, Goodheart emphasizes. 15 illus. (Apr.)
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"Exhilarating ... inspiring ... irresistible ... 1861 creates the uncanny illusion that the reader has stepped into a time machine."
"In his marvelous book...Goodheart brings us into 19th-century America, as ambiguous, ambitious and fractured as the times we live in now, and he brings to pulsing life the hearts and minds of its American citizens."
--New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"Riveting and thought-provoking narrative."
--Library Journal (*starred review*)
"Hardly a page of this book lacks an important insight or a fact that beguiles the readers. ... Goodheart shows us that even at 150 years' distance there are new voices, and new stories, to be heard about the Civil War."
"Beautifully written and thoroughly original--quite unlike any other Civil War book out there."
--Kirkus Reviews (*starred review*)
advance praise for Adam Goodheart’s 1861
“1861 is the best book I have ever read on the start of the Civil War. Sumter, secession, and Lincoln appear in a wonderfully fresh and illuminating light, supported by a cast of extraordinary players that few Americans know about. Penetrating, eloquent, and deeply moving, this is a classic introduction to the nation’s greatest conflict.”
—Tony Horwitz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Confederates in the Attic
“Combining a master historian’s sure command of original sources and a novelist’s deft touch with character and narrative, Adam Goodheart has produced the young century’s liveliest book about how a generation of remarkable and ordinary Americans alike variously provoked, resisted, and endured the dissolution of their country and the tragic march toward civil war. Major and minor characters, political movements, and whole towns and villages come alive under Goodheart’s expert scrutiny. The result is that rarest of history books: a work of remarkable original scholarship crafted into an irresistible read.”
—Harold Holzer, chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and author of Lincoln President-Elect
“Adam Goodheart brings to this book a rare combination of talent: passion and precision as a historian, grace and generosity as a writer. 1861 puts us in the young nation that was about to shed its skin and begin life as something new.”
—Richard Ben Cramer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“No one could capture Whitman’s ‘hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year’ more vividly than Adam Goodheart has done in this magnificent book. 1861 isn’t merely a work of history; it’s a time-travel device that makes a century and a half fall away and sets us down, eyes and ears wide open, right in the midst of the chaos and the glory.”
—Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
“With boundless verve, Adam Goodheart has sketched an uncommonly rich tableau of America on the cusp of the Civil War. The research is impeccable, the cast of little-known characters we are introduced to is thoroughly fascinating, the book is utterly thought-provoking, and the story is luminescent. What a triumph.”
—Jay Winik, author of New York Times best-sellers April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
“Adam Goodheart is a Monet with a pen instead of a paintbrush. Like an impressionist painting, 1861 reveals layers of meaning and beauty as one studies it closely.”
—James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom