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The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln Paperback – April 9, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307474488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307474483
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Stephen L. Carter's The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln:

“Carter is a masterly novelist. . . . Carter makes the setting seem true, creating as real an immediate postwar Washington as Gore Vidal’s wartime Washington in Lincoln. He has also created an interesting Zelig-like character in the free young black woman Abigail Canner.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“An entertaining story rooted in the legal, political and racial conflicts of 19th-century America.”
The Washington Post
 
“A novel that is as epic and full of turns as the Civil War itself. . . . Carter writes with a gentle elegance of the trauma in the streets and parlors of Washington as Americans grapple with the lingering tragedy of the war, the assassination attempt, and the impeachment. . . . There are really two interesting and parallel stories here: One is a meticulously laid-out courtroom drama. . . . The other is a Grisham-style caper involving the improbable ascension of a gung-ho, young middle-class black woman named Abigail Canner. . . . Carter’s cool style gives the novel a breezy accessibility.”
The Seattle Times
 
“There’s a lot going on in this big, smart book. . . . What makes the novel so vastly entertaining is the author’s sharp skewering of politicians, lawyers, and the monied social class that runs Washington. . . . Carter raises important questions about governing during wartime and in peace, and he interrogates the motivations behind impeachment in general. Lofty legal arguments coincide with a grittier plot involving murder, the demimonde, and a mysterious list of possible anti-Lincoln conspirators. Romantic complications abound.”
The Boston Globe
 
“Entertaining. . . . [A] rich political thriller that dares to imagine how events might have ricocheted in a different direction after the Civil War. . . . Carter’s delight in all this material is infectious. He’s a fantastic legal dramatist, and there’s the constant pleasure of seeing his creation of Washington City in 1867, alive with sounds and smells. . . . History buffs can test their mettle by trying to unwind Carter’s entangling of fact and fiction.”
The Washington Post
 
“[T]he best legal thriller so far this year. . . . I’ve liked Carter’s four previous forays into fiction. This one, I loved.”
—Patrik Henry Bass, Essence Magazine
 
“A vivid portrait. . . . The best thing about sitting down with this rich, often thrilling novel is watching its alternative history unfold.”
The Washingtonian
 
“Fascinating . . . impressively imagined . . . A time in American history when lofty principles and petty concerns battled for pride of place in the national consciousness. . . . The novel excels at drawing a vivid picture of Washington City (as it was then known), halfway between its origins as fetid swampland and the bureaucratic metropolis of today. . . . As a character, Abigail Canner is perfectly positioned to provide the reader with access to every social strata. . . . She is a proud, resourceful, intelligent heroine.”
The Oregonian
 
“Carter’s tale comes to a conclusion as thrilling and untidy as the actual events that unfolded during the turbulent postwar years.”
—Bloomberg.com

“A delightful novel. . . . Carter, [by] making Abigail Canner the protagonist through whose eyes one sees much of the story, shows us life in the nation’s capital, the epicenter of the victorious North, as lived by its black population. That perspective is rich, rare, and almost certainly well-researched. . . . The book kept me up late, reading as fast as I can.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Carter writes a likely and intriguing scenario. . . . His use of rich, authentic dialogue and graphic descriptions of Washington City give authority to his work.”
Louisville Courier-Journal

“A crackling good read. . . . Carter gives us a gripping portrait of Lincoln. . . . Best of all is the light Carter shines on a slice of Washington life that remains obscure to many Americans to this day: the black middle class of the mid-19th century, represented here in the trim and perspicacious person of the book’s surprising sleuth, Abigail Canner . . . a black Nancy Drew with the weight of history on her shoulders.”
Chicago Tribune

“A rich blend of murder mystery, legal thriller, courtroom drama, and period piece featuring some of the historical figures of the time. What elevates Impeachment above most alternative history is how Carter charts the cross currents of race, class, and society in the raucous capital.”
The Miami Herald

“Carter lays out a fascinating What-If plot.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Superb. . . . [Carter] teases out the implications of his scenario with a deep knowledge of Lincoln’s time. He tells a page-turning tale of historical espionage. . . . I’m reminded why I read fiction in the first place, and why a new book by Stephen Carter is always to be celebrated.”
—John Wilson, Books & Culture

“Freed Black men, gangs of evil White men, and crafty politicians come alive in this work. Fluidly written, the pages fly by, leaving you with a feeling that this really could have happened.”
Ebony Magazine

“An engaging historical what-if . . . Provides an intriguing look at race and politics in 19th-century America with relevancies that still echo today.”
Valdosta Daily Times (Georgia)

“Abigail is a wonderful creation. . . . Carter writes in the naturalistic school of Theodore Dreiser. His strength lies in capturing the subtle nuances of social interaction between blacks and whites.”
Library Journal

“A smart and engaging what-if that has the virtue of being plausible. . . . Abigail makes for a grandly entertaining sleuth.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This novel has all the juicy stew of post–Civil War Washington, with the complexities of race, class, and sex mixed in. Carter draws on historical documents and a vivid imagination to render a fascinating mix of murder mystery, political thriller, and courtroom drama. . . . Imaginatively conceived.”
Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University, where he has taught since 1982. He is also the author of seven books of nonfiction.

www.stephencarterbooks.com


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Customer Reviews

Also, I like a loose end or two at the end of a book but this one has too many.
EWebb
Good historical novel, well written and very good fictional story that was integrated into real history.
ruben
The story is riveting, the characters are interesting, well written and completely believable.
Jeanne Tassotto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Stephen L Carter is a professor of law at Yale University and the author of five novels and many works of non-fiction. His first three novels were set in the black communities of New York City, New Haven, and Martha's Vinyard, among other places. His characters were members of that little-written about community, the "Talented Tenth", or the black upper class. Stephen Carter is a wonderful writer when writing on the history, community, and social lives of the "Talented Tenth". His fourth book, "Jericho's Fall", which was published in 2009 was a disappointment; it was a conventional spy thriller set in - Colorado. I read it, reviewed it, and gave it four stars. I wrote that Carter, after having written three marvelous novels, had returned with a middling story that took little advantage of what he, among few writers, really knew and could write well about. Well,the "old" Stephen L Carter has returned to us with his new novel, "The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln".

"Impeachment" takes an alternative history view of Abraham Lincoln's last years in office. Carter begins his book with Lincoln surviving the assassination attempt at Ford's Theater. John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators are hunted down and most were killed before they could talk. Lincoln continues as president, though in Carter's story, VP Andrew Johnson is killed and William Seward is so badly injured that he never leaves his home. Lincoln, therefore, carries on with the Reconstruction of the South. He wants to be relatively gentle on the returning Confederates and not impose the harsh citizenship and economic penalties that were actually meted out under Andrew Johnson. But Abraham Lincoln has as many enemies post war as he had during the war and opponents get together to bring a bill of impeachment against Lincoln.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By rgregg VINE VOICE on June 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Stephen Carter is a prolific writer who is known for his complex and detailed fiction such as "The Emperor of Ocean Park".
In "the Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln", he has taken on the task of writing a "what if" historical story with an intriguing premise.
What if Lincoln survived the attempt on his life by John Wilkes Booth? Carter has taken Lincoln to 1867 where he finds himself facing impeachment in the Senate for some of his actions after the Civil War in order to do what he felt was needed to stabilize the country.
The fascinating main character in this book is not Lincoln but a young black woman named Abigail Canner. She is a recent college graduate who is taking on a job as a law clerk at the law office of the firm who is responsible for defending the President.
Canner makes for a solid lead in this book as her feisty attitude, knowledge of the law, and determination to succeed is vital to the role she is about to play at the law firm. Her skin color is a key attribute in the novel and it both helps her and hurts her in various ways in post Civil War USA.
This is not simply a story of the impeachment trial. It covers many bases. Carter throws in a murder mystery, an examination of the social mores existing in Washington after the war, conspiracy theories, race relations, and political divides.
When one member of the defense team is found dead along with a supposed prostitute, Canner refuses to accept both the conclusions of the police and the relationship between the two murder victims. Her investigation into that issue is an interesting part of the book.
Canner finds herself torn between advancing her career, romantic sparks between herself and another member of the law firm and the prejudices of members of her own family and others.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kristan O. Overstreet on January 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
When you pick up a book entitled "The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln," it's natural to presume that the book is about an Abe Lincoln who lives to be impeached. You would, quite naturally, also assume that you would get a clear and concise explanation of the reasons why the impeachment took place, the principal players in the drama, and the impeachment proceedings itself.

Well... no. At best you get one out of the three- the proceedings and arguments, at least when the main characters can be bothered to attend the impeachment trial on the Senate floor.

The book is, in reality, a convoluted and unconvincing murder mystery, featuring conspiracies too confusing and inexplicable to be believed. The main character is a well-off free black woman with a college degree- which already overstretches the bounds of probability for 1867- who seeks to become a lawyer at a prestigious Washington law firm... at a time when there were only a handful of black lawyers in the whole nation, and no female lawyers whatever! The character by herself is so improbable that the author has to make repeated efforts to justify her existence- NOT a sign of good writing. Tack on to that an interracial romance or two... in the Reconstruction era... well, good-bye, credibility.

The reader is dropped straight into the impeachment crisis with absolutely no lead-in other than, "Lincoln took a bullet to the head from Booth and was up and about again in four days, yay Lincoln!" When looking for historical figures to gain a frame of reference, the reader is almost always disappointed: all but one or two of the principals are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts with all the personality of a theater lobby standie.
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