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Publisher's Summary

A brilliantly conceived and vividly drawn story - Washington, D.C. on the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s historic second inaugural address as the lens through which to understand all the complexities of the Civil War

By March 4, 1865, the Civil War had slaughtered more than 700,000 Americans and left intractable wounds on the nation. After a morning of rain-drenched fury, tens of thousands crowded Washington’s Capitol grounds that day to see Abraham Lincoln take the oath for a second term. As the sun emerged, Lincoln rose to give perhaps the greatest inaugural address in American history, stunning the nation by arguing, in a brief 701 words, that both sides had been wrong, and that the war’s unimaginable horrors - every drop of blood spilled - might well have been God’s just verdict on the national sin of slavery. 

Edward Achorn reveals the nation’s capital on that momentous day - with its mud, sewage, and saloons, its prostitutes, spies, reporters, social-climbing spouses and power-hungry politicians - as a microcosm of all the opposing forces that had driven the country apart. A host of characters, unknown and famous, had converged on Washington - from grievously wounded Union colonel Selden Connor in a Washington hospital and the embarrassingly drunk new vice president, Andrew Johnson, to poet-journalist Walt Whitman; from soldiers’ advocate Clara Barton and African-American leader and Lincoln critic-turned-admirer Frederick Douglass (who called the speech “a sacred effort”) to conflicted actor John Wilkes Booth - all swirling around the complex figure of Lincoln. 

In indelible scenes, Achorn vividly captures the frenzy in the nation’s capital at this crucial moment in America’s history and the tension-filled hope and despair afflicting the country as a whole, soon to be heightened by Lincoln's assassination. His story offers new understanding of our great national crisis, and echoes down the decades to resonate in our own time. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2020 by Edward Achorn. Recorded by arrangement with Atlantic Monthly Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. (P)2020 Audible, Inc.

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  • Dr. Bill- Northern NJ-USA
  • 2020-03-06

After 155 Years- History Repeats Itself

The research put into this book is unbelievable! It is very apparent today that after 155 years the Confederate South has still NOT recovered from their loss. White Supremacy is still showing its ugly side!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Clark Booth
  • 2020-07-19

New and fascinating

After almost 15,000 books that have been written about Lincoln and dozens that I have read I was surprised at the new insights from this book. I heard the author being interviewed on a broadcast and before the show was over I had ordered this book. I have now been through it three times. This author is somewhat of a genius and has an agreeable writing style. The narration is pleasant to listen to which is very important in an audible book. I strongly suggest you get it.

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  • I read everything
  • 2020-03-25

Tremendous

The stories of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War are always so amazing and pertinent to modern America in so many ways. Great reading performance by Mr. Barr. Thank you it was very enjoyable

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  • Mark Mears
  • 2020-07-03

Worth the read

This book was enjoyable, and had several details which I did not know before. I had the impression the author was stretching some occurrences to make the narrative long enough for a book. I am happy the author affirmed my long held beliefs about Lincoln’s attitude toward abolition. Many point to his pre-war comments to suggest he was not an abolitionist. The author provides details from Lincoln’s second inaugural to demonstrate he very much was, but knew he had to play politics to get it done.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 2020-06-05

A better look into Lincoln’s struggle over a god.

The best insight in particular into Lincoln’s cognitive dissonance with a lack of reasonable evidence for the God of the Bible and the emotional needs and strain and fear of leading a nation during war in which everyone was tempted to find some sort of overarching plan or purpose from a god when there was none.

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  • LaMar M. Fox
  • 2020-09-18

An Anthem For Our Time

This excellent book reminds us that Lincoln's quest has yet to be fully achieved. We must carry the banner of "malice toward none and charity for all" until all men are free and equal.

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  • Judy
  • 2020-08-15

President of a House Divided

The parallels to today's fractured America are striking. Author Achorn presents a wide-ranging review of the political landscape of the day, a setting roiling with the ingrained hatred of man for man. Elected to a second term, Lincoln delivers his inaugural address to a stressed nation that is struggling to come to terms with a cultural chasm that persists to this day.

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  • DustyCamel
  • 2020-06-22

DC politics during Lincoln Presidency

At age 82 believing I knew about the Civil War from Grant’s autobiography, I had a lot to learn. Washington politics during Lincoln’s term not only were complex but they evolved as the war progressed. This is a book of insight, well- written, and will benefit anyone interested in that era of the growth of our democracy.

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  • William G. Stuart
  • 2020-06-15

A New Twist on Lincoln

There have probably been more books written about Lincoln than any other American. So it's hard to come up with something new (though in recent years I've read good books about his "Team of Rivals," the Gettysburg address, and the people all the employees working at Ford's Theater the night the president was assassinated). This book is about the Second Inaugural Address, as the subhead signals. But in order to put that short speech in context, the author provides details about the war, the re-election campaign, John W. Booth and his conspirators, and the life and times of the nation and DC residents in the 1860s. It's a very readable, very relatable look at the action and pressures around the president as the war intensified and then ended. It places the reader in an army hospital as volunteers, including Walt Whitman, care for the wounded. . . and in the War Department . . . and the White House. I learned more about this topic from this book than I did in my high school AP history class.

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  • Stanowski
  • 2020-05-24

Impossible navigation

Trying for now to get to where I left off reading the sample. Want to listen from that point to the audible which I purchased. ???????