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After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil…

After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace

by A. J. Langguth

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I received an Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Goodreads Giveaways.

Langguth's latest work is one that seeks to tackle the narrative of political life and reform efforts upon the close of the Civil War. Though the book's chapter 'titles' are a bit misleading, Langguth's level of detail is impressive, and he includes discussion of the daily lives, thoughts, and actions of political and military figures from the Civil War through Reconstruction that would not normally be available to the casual reader. Langguth presents his overall take on the North's failure to rebuild and reform the South as one of political tragedy and individual opportunism, where rivalries and old resentments prevented any real progress towards bringing the South away from slavery and repression towards equality and development.

An entertaining work of historical analysis that could have been subdivided a bit clearer. Solid in its ease of reading for casual history readers and good for students and professionals due to its level of detail. ( )
  bdtrump | May 9, 2015 |
Based on the title of this book readers could be forgiven for assuming that they would be getting an in-depth examination on the Reconstruction period of the south, its successes, failures and long term effects. Those readers will be mostly disappointed.
Instead After Lincoln spends most of its time giving readers short biographies of the era’s figures. This includes the likes of Charles Sumner, William Seward, Jeff Davis, Andrew Johnson, Nathan Bedford Forest and Ulysses Grant. While interesting, these sections offer no more depth then what could be found on a Wikipedia page. The author does spend some time reviewing the effects of the KKK and the Jim Crow laws. But just as it seems the book will finally get on track it with its supposed main subject, it always veers off track again.
The period of Reconstruction is not often studied and little understood by the general public. But it is an important period of this nation’s history and one that deserves to be widely understood. The failings of that era to address equality for all coupled with the monolithic southern resistance to basic civil rights are all issues that very much matter today. After Lincoln isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t do much at all to address the issues that were suggested in its title. ( )
1 vote queencersei | Feb 13, 2015 |
As dreadful as the Civil War had been from the loss of life, the aftermath (reconstruction) was worse because of the perverted application of the principles of liberty. The author has done a commendable job of sketching the whole period which has never really concluded. The meanness of the principle actors is best seen as some weird real-life Halloween. Even the better actors are none too good. Mr Langguth has done a commendable job in reducing the monsters of reconstruction to the printed page; a less accomplished author may have surrendered to characterizations. And still one is left with a huge disconnect -- where did so many go so wrong. ( )
  DeaconBernie | Oct 22, 2014 |
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With Lincoln's assassination, his "team of rivals" was left adrift. President Andrew Johnson, a former slave owner from Tennessee, was challenged by radical Republicans in Congress, who wanted to punish the defeated South. When Johnson's policies placated the rebels at the expense of the black freed men, radicals in the House impeached him for trying to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Even William Seward, Lincoln's closest ally in his cabinet, seemed to waver. By the 1868 election, united Republicans nominated Ulysses Grant, Lincoln's winning Union general. The night of his victory, Grant lamented to his wife, "I'm afraid I'm elected." His attempts to reconcile Southerners with the Union and to quash the rising Ku Klux Klan were undercut by implacable Southern resistance and by corruption during his two terms.--From publisher description.… (more)

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