April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik

Read: October 28 - November 2
Format: Hardback 606 pages
Source: my shelves
Subject: Civil War, assassination, reconstruction
Category: The Engagement: this is getting serious
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★½

At the end of the Civil War, it is startling that so much occurred in the "final" month. The Confederate Army, led by Robert E. Lee, made one last ditch effort to elude the Union forces of Ulysses Grant but on April 9, 1865 surrendered at Appomattox Court House. Less than a week later, Abraham Lincoln lies dead, assassinated by John Wilkes Booth and Andrew Johnson is the new President. Confederate General Johnston disobeyed Jefferson Davis' orders to fight on and surrendered to Sherman.

The end of hostilities came in 1865 and possibly, Lincoln would have agreed with Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General, when he said "You have been good soldiers, you can be good citizens. Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the government to which you have surrendered can afford to be and will be magnanimous."

This book relates the details of these events as well as the background that brought about these results. However, IMHO, it is not well written. If this book is to be constituted as a book of historical fact, then it needs to be severely edited. There are far too many personal observations and conclusions interspersed throughout as well as a jumpy writing style. The author frequently leaves one thought process hanging moving on to another and then jumps back to where he left off. I have no doubt that Professor Winik has researched his topic diligently, however, I believe that this book of 606 pages with another 101 of footnotes could have been more concise if the author's opinions had been eliminated and the conclusions left to be evaluated by the reader with just the facts stated.

1 comment:

Anna and Serena said...

Thanks for participating in the challenge; we've linked to your review at War Through the Generations and your snippet of a review will appear on Dec. 2. Thanks again