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Lincoln's Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, DC Hardcover – August 19, 2013

4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

During the Civil War, Washington, D.C., was a boomtown. Against the distant sound of cannon fire, the city multiplied in size as various groups of people flowed in. Office seekers, military casualties, and escaping slaves lent the city a turbulent wartime sociology that Winkle probes. First, however, he depicts antebellum Washington during Abraham Lincoln’s 1847–49 term in Congress. Recounting Lincoln’s and fellow antislavery politicians’ encounters with the peculiar institution, Winkle underscores the complicated legal conditions imposed on blacks, free and enslaved. He carries the legal scaffolding of D.C. slavery into the war years, when Congress abolished it by gradations, and details each step’s ramifications on Washington’s blacks and whites. Lincoln’s personal and political part in these proceedings does not dominate but rather supplements Winkle’s narratives of people drawn into the city as battle casualties or fugitives from slavery. His anecdotes of individual cases usefully illustrate his deployment of statistics about hospitals and refugee camps. Reminiscent of Margaret Leech’s classic Reveille in Washington (1941), Winkle’s history modernizes a story ever attractive to Civil War readers. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

Well-researched and thoroughly engaging, Winkle's history is a welcome addition to a body of Civil War literature that too often privileges men and massacres.

When Lincoln became president, Washington was just emerging from its long tenure as a sleepy outpost of Southern proslavery domination of this professedly democratic nation. Kenneth Winkle eloquently chronicles the transformation of the capital wrought by the Civil War, when Washington became the nerve center of a huge war effort that in turn transformed the nation, freed four million slaves, and launched America on its course toward modernity. --James M. McPherson, author of War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861 1865"

Lincoln s Citadel sets a new standard for research and insight into wartime Washington. Kenneth Winkle has taken the political intrigue of the nation s besieged capital and turned it into the setting for a remarkable series of human stories about the ordinary men and women who rallied to help President Lincoln save the Union. --Matthew Pinsker, author of Lincoln s Sanctuary"

Kenneth Winkle has earned a reputation for original research, expert interpretation, and crackerjack storytelling, and all these attributes are on full display in Lincoln s Citadel. This is an invaluable addition to the Lincoln bookshelf. --Harold Holzer, chairman, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, and author of Lincoln President-Elect"

Well-researched and thoroughly engaging, Winkle s history is a welcome addition to a body of Civil War literature that too often privileges men and massacres. "

Lincoln's Citadel sets a new standard for research and insight into wartime Washington. Kenneth Winkle has taken the political intrigue of the nation's besieged capital and turned it into the setting for a remarkable series of human stories about the ordinary men and women who rallied to help President Lincoln save the Union. --Matthew Pinsker, author of Lincoln s Sanctuary"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First edition (August 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393081559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081558
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With so much written about the American Civil War, it is difficult to write something fresh. Although it offers no new insights into the political or military history of the war, Kenneth Winkle's new book, "Lincoln's Citadel: the Civil War in Washington, D.C." (2013) succeeds in adding to the understanding of the conflict. It focuses on Washington, D.C. and its response to the great events of 1860 -- 1865. Other histories cover this material but, to my knowledge, lack the detail Winkle provides. Winkle, professor of history at the University of Nebraska,has written other books developing little known aspects of the Civil War, including "The Young Eagle", his biography of Lincoln in young adulthood.

Winkle's book moves between a history of the capital city and biographical details of Lincoln's life during his time in Washington. The emphasis, however is on the place rather than on the president. For the most part, Winkle tells his story by subject matter rather than by chronology. The presentation sometimes moves back and forth with a degree of repetition.

The book begins in late 1847 with Lincoln's arrival in Washington, D.C. to serve as a member of the 30th Congress. This is the most biographical part of the book as Lincoln's activities as a Congressman receive detailed discussion. But Winkle's focus remains on pre-bellum Washington, D.C. as he describes the southern slave-holding character of what was then a small, undeveloped city. Winkle develops the turbulence of Washington, D.C. life, with its inadequate police force, poor sanitation, lack of hospitals, and frequent fighting over slavery and abolition. Lincoln's life in Washington D.C. particularly his married life with Mary receive substantial treatment as the book progresses.
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Format: Hardcover
This book purports to be a history of Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. Rather, the author would rather tell the story of slaves, ex.slaves, free blacks and contraband. There are snippets of information about Washington. But, much of the book is devoted to the African American experience. This is a good topic and Winkle brings forth a great deal of information. But, Lincoln's citadel gets lost in the process. To me the title of the book was a deception that caused me to obtain the book under the false premise that I would be reading about Washington, D.C. during this critical period. I had hoped the book would add to others I have read on the same subject. The book did add information and insight about the African American experience, but not about Washington. A big disappointment.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book, Washington DC is treated primarily as a backdrop to a narrative on the concurrent experiences of Lincoln, African Americans, politicians and the Union army--in that order--from the late 1840s through the Civil War. Lincoln and the plight of black Americans are the central characters. Everything else is secondary and coincidental, including the District of Columbia. Consequently, the title of the book may lead to disappointment for some folks. The "Citadel" is merely a stage. It is more like a "Crucible of Emancipation" in this context. Perhaps the publisher thought the chosen title would sell more books. It does not, however, accurately convey the content of the book.

Be advised there are many tantalizing tidbits about DC and its "southern" culture. The statistics on the city's role as a massive depot of war materiel and its many convoluted civil struggles offer informative insights. The carefully developed narratives on the national and local political machinations of the time are also quite engaging.

By far, the most revealing content centers on the African American population--free, slave, runaway, contraband, confiscated and enlisted. Actually, it is the best part of the book and is worth the purchase price regardless of the other material. It reads like a suspense novel and a plaintive history of cruelty, arbitrary oppression, abject poverty, ingenuity, sacrifice and profound aspirations throughout the African American and Abolitionist communities. It describes the death of an abomination and the birth of a new struggle for equality.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting book. If I recall, this may be the 1st book I'd read that focus heavily on the Nation's Capital during the War Between the States.

"Lincoln's Citadel" opens with a look in the future President's sole term in Congress in the late 1840s. His voting record, esp. in regards to slavery is a focus here. The book then skips over 10 years to 1860 when Lincoln wins the Presidency & talks about how he was able to keep Maryland from joining the Confederacy after Virginia left the Union. This was important to keep the Capital safe from the Confederate army trying to attack it.

A good deal of the book focus on President Lincoln's attempt to end slavery in the Nation's Capital as well as keeping "contraband" safe (the Fugitive Slave Act won't get repeal until 1864, meaning that runaways in the Nation Capital can still get send back to slavery if their master's from a slave state that didn't leave the Union like Maryland or Delaware can come to claim them.) as well as the building of hospitals for Union casualties. By the start of his 2nd term, Washington D.C. was a different city than when he 1st came back as President 4 years earlier.

All in all, this is an interesting & well researched book. Highly recommended for those for who want to know more about life in Washington D.C. during the Civil War.
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