Review by Choice Review
During the Civil War, 1862 was perhaps the most pivotal year. Those 12 months saw the emergence of Abraham Lincoln as national leader and Great Emancipator, intense political debate on the nature of the Union, and great military victories and catastrophes as the North tried to subdue the rebellious South. Von Drehle (Time magazine editor) documents the rise and fall of Union fortunes through the political lens of Lincoln's presidency. Lincoln struggled with subpar generals, divided political opinions, and resilient adversaries, while at the same time juggling a trying family life, personal self-doubt, and the fear of making an incorrect decision that might lead the nation into ruin. The outcome of the Civil War is obvious now; Von Drehle successfully captures the uncertainty and angst that defined its course in 1862. The book is very well written and engaging. Although a knowledgeable Civil War reader might not find much new here, most readers will find the book a compelling page-turner that humanizes the famous names from the Civil War. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. S. J. Ramold Eastern Michigan University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
On New Year's Day 1862, nine months after the firing on Fort Sumter, few thought President Lincoln had matters under control. Von Drehle (Triangle: The Fire That Changed America), a Time magazine editor-at-large, points out that the Confederate Army was camped near Washington, D.C. The growing Union Army, under charismatic but unwarlike General McClellan, was refusing to march. The future looked brighter in February when General Grant captured forts Henry and Donelson out west and in April when Union forces captured New Orleans. It looked even better when McClellan advanced near Yorktown, Va., but he dawdled and retreated in the face of energetic attacks. After Confederate forces moved north in September, McClellan's deliberation produced a draw at bloody Antietam. Fed up, Lincoln dismissed McClellan. His replacement, Ambrose Burnside, led the army to disaster at Fredericksburg, so 1862 ended badly, but Lincoln had learned painful lessons, and 1863 produced victories for the North. This is a conventional popular history with familiar figures, events, anecdotes, and no revisionist opinions, but Von Drehle has chosen a critical year ("the most eventful year in American history" and the year Lincoln "rose to greatness"), done his homework, and written a spirited account. 8 pages of b&w photos, b&w illus., maps. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A historian zeroes in on the year Lincoln found his footing as president and set the country on a bold new course. "Never has there been a moment in history," said one U.S. senator, "when so much was all compressed into a little time." Von Drehle (Triangle: The Fire that Changed America, 2003, etc.) charts the tumultuous year, month by month, to demonstrate how the momentous events of 1862 unfolded. Amid the turmoil of Civil War, the largely Republican Congress passed legislation with far-reaching postwar consequences: funding a transcontinental railroad and land-grant colleges, strengthening the Army and Navy, establishing a Bureau of Agriculture, adopting new fiscal and monetary policies, outlawing slavery in the District of Columbia, instituting a draft and authorizing the enlistment of blacks in the military. For all these enterprises to flourish, though, the war still had to be won. With rumors of domestic conspiracies and coups swirling and with the allegiance of border states still tenuous, the Civil War turned savage and hard with unprecedented slaughters at places like Shiloh, Antietam and Fredericksburg. At the center of the storm, Von Drehle deftly places Lincoln, gradually mastering the art of war, ultimately firing the too-timid McClellan, solemnly accepting and desperately searching for a general to apply the cruel arithmetic necessary for Union victory. In 1862, Lincoln suffered the loss of a son and the near loss of another, and he watched his grieving wife become unmoored. All the while, the president maneuvered around Taney's Supreme Court, quelled an insurrection in the Republican caucus, mediated the squabbling in his Cabinet, held off the Democrats in the midterm elections, and prepared the ground for the Emancipation Proclamation. Two years of bitter fighting remained, but Confederate armies would never again be as formidable. Meanwhile, under Lincoln's steady hand, the Union put in place the political and military machinery that would win the war and assure a future few imagined before Fort Sumter. A thoroughly engaging examination of the irreversible changes emerging from a year when the nation's very survival remained in doubt.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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