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The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by…

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Stephen L. Carter

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Title:The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln
Authors:Stephen L. Carter
Info:Knopf (2012), Hardcover, 528 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

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The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter (2012)


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Imagine that Abraham Lincoln survived John Wilkes Booth's assassination attempt but that Vice President Andrew Johnson, also a target of the plot that night, had been killed. Further imagine that it was then Lincoln, not Johnson, who was impeached by Congress during the political struggle over Reconstruction following the Civil War. This is what Stephen L. Carter imagines in his terrific 2012 novel "The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln."

Carter goes on to imagine that a brilliant and beautiful young black woman, fresh out of Oberlin College, becomes a part of Lincoln's legal defense team, albeit a lowly clerk responsible more for sweeping floors than determining legal strategy. Still Abigail Canner becomes central to the story, and what an exciting story it is.

The author paints a Congress in 1867 not so different from Congress today, a group of individuals more interested in political gain than anything else. With Johnson dead, the president pro tempore of the Senate is next in line to be president, yet it is the Senate that must vote on removing the president from office. Meanwhile several others, including Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who presides over the impeachment trial, also have political ambitions that might benefit from Lincoln's departure. Clearly the deck is stacked against the president.

Carter gives us a riveting political thriller, legal thriller and, after the head of the defense team is found murdered in front of a brothel in the company of a black woman, crime thriller. Yet there are flaws. The impeachment of Lincoln proves easier to believe than certain other parts of the plot, such as that other members of Abigail's family also play important roles in the story. And the author leaves too many questions unanswered.

The novel leaves us with at least two conclusions about history. One is that even if Lincoln had survived Booth's attempt on his life, the aftermath of the war would have proceeded pretty much as it did. The other is that one thing that might have been different is our perception of Abraham Lincoln. Had Lincoln been caught in the middle of the Reconstruction fight, perhaps his historical reputation would have suffered, just as President John F. Kennedy's standing in history might have suffered had he not been assassinated. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Jul 6, 2016 |

Meaty, obsessive, detailed, human. I could not put this down but I had to keep putting it down and read in small chunks because it was so intricate. Tonight I devoted myself to finishing the last half and five hours later I am sad I am done. ( )
  Caryn.Rose | Mar 18, 2015 |

Great concept for a book but the plot is muddled. Still enjoyable serious historical fiction but not as good as emperor of ocean park. One issue Carter has is that he is a horrible writer of women characters. They come off as wooden and bereft of depth making the protagonist of this book half as interesting as she should be. ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
Enjoyed this book. Part alternate history, part mystery. Great book if you like those genres. ( )
  autumnturner76 | Sep 22, 2014 |
a tad tedious. I wouldn't have missed not reading it. ( )
  bke | Mar 30, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030727263X, Hardcover)

From the best-selling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park and New England White, a daring reimagining of one of the most tumultuous moments in our nation’s past
Stephen L. Carter’s thrilling new novel takes as its starting point an alternate history: President Abraham Lincoln survives the assassination attempt at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Two years later he is charged with overstepping his constitutional authority, both during and after the Civil War, and faces an impeachment trial . . .

Twenty-one-year-old Abigail Canner is a young black woman with a degree from Oberlin, a letter of employment from the law firm that has undertaken Lincoln’s defense, and the iron-strong conviction, learned from her late mother, that “whatever limitations society might place on ordinary negroes, they would never apply to her.” And so Abigail embarks on a life that defies the norms of every stratum of Washington society: working side by side with a white clerk, meeting the great and powerful of the nation, including the president himself.  But when Lincoln’s lead counsel is found brutally murdered on the eve of the trial, Abigail is plunged into a treacherous web of intrigue and conspiracy reaching the highest levels of the divided government.

Here is a vividly imagined work of historical fiction that captures the emotional tenor of post–Civil War America, a brilliantly realized courtroom drama that explores the always contentious question of the nature of presidential authority, and a galvanizing story of political suspense.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:50 -0400)

In an alternate history novel, Lincoln escapes assassination by John Wilkes Booth only to face impeachment, and Abigail Canner, a young black woman involved in his defense, helps investigate the murder of the president's counsel.

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