From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Critically acclaimed historian Flood (Grant and Sherman: The Friendship that Won the Civil War) provides a brilliant, compelling account of Lincoln's dramatic final full year of life-a year in which the war finally turned in the Union's favor and Lincoln faced a tough battle for re-election. After Union defeats at the Battle of Cold Harbor and the siege of Petersburg, Confederate General Jubal Early came within five miles of Washington, D.C., before he was beaten back; General Sherman's September victory at Atlanta followed, with his bloody march to the sea. At the same time, Lincoln found himself running against his own secretary of the treasury, Salmon Chase, for the Republican nomination, and then against the Democrat (and general) George B. McClellan for the presidency. Lincoln won by a narrow popular majority, but a significant electoral majority. At the close of 1864, as Lincoln celebrated both his re-election and the coming end of the war, John Wilkes Booth laid down an ambitious plan for kidnapping that soon evolved into a map for murder. Combining a novelist's flair with the authority and deep knowledge of a scholar, Flood artfully integrates this complex web of storylines. 16 pages of b&w photos, maps.
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Flood follows Abraham Lincoln’s fourth year as president, ranging across matters that arose in his office, in person, or on paper, whether of minor or major importance. Securing his readers’ engagement with a detailed account of business Lincoln conducted on January 1, 1864, Flood depicts for them the appearance of Lincoln’s workplace, to which access was extraordinarily easy to obtain. Petitioners and their pleas—for government posts, for stays of execution, for an autograph—parade through Flood’s chronicle, as do bringers of tidings connected with the two biggest things on Lincoln’s mind during 1864: winning reelection and winning the Civil War. Flood’s overall effect shows how contingent each was: he recounts Lincoln’s hardheaded electioneering actions—involving money, political favors, and sidetracking rivals such as Salmon Chase—alongside Lincoln’s exercise of his commander-in-chief role. Neither objective was entirely separable, and there’s a sophistication in Flood’s portrayal that shows how Lincoln’s actions to further one furthered the other, as in his furlough of Union soldiers to vote for him. Flood’s high-quality historical narrative will capture the Civil War readership. --Gilbert Taylor