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About the Author

Jay Winik, one of the nation's leading historians, is renowned for his gifted and creative approaches to history. He is the author of The New York Times and #1 bestseller April 1865 (2001), which received wide international acclaim and became an award-wining documentary on the History Channel, show more watched by 50 million viewers. The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800 (HarperCollins, 2007), was a New York Times bestseller and a Best Book of the Year for both USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as a main selection of the Book of the Month club and the History Book club. In the UK it was also selected for the prestigious Financial Times list of best books of the year. Winik was in 2013 the Historical Advisor to the National Geographic Channels, and among a number of projects, worked on an epic six-part history of the 1980s with the renowned, award-winning Nutopia film company, which premiered to critical acclaim in over 100 countries. Frequently asked to write or speak about Presidential Leadership and Abraham Lincoln, Winik recorded a series of 14 lectures on the Civil War for the Barnes and Noble Great Lectures series, and he is one of the lead authors of Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst of the White House (Wall Street Journal Books, 2004); What Ifs? Of American History: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been (Putnam, 2003); BookNotes on American Character (PublicAffairs, 2004); I Wish I¿d Been There: Distinguished Historians Travel Back In Time, (Doubleday, 2006); and Abraham Lincoln: Great American Historians on our 16th president (Public Affairs/C-SPAN, 2008). Born in Connecticut, Winik is a graduate of Yale College, and holds an M.Sc. with distinction from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Represented by Michael Carlisle in New York City, and the Washington Speakers Bureau, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, is an elected Fellow of the Society of American Historians, and served or serves on the Governing Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a presidential appointment, as well as the boards for American Heritage magazine and the journal, World Affairs; he is also a trustee or advisory board member of a number of non-profit boards, including National History Day, the Civil War Preservation Trust; Ford¿s Theatre; The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission; The Lincoln Legacy Project, the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation; the Lincoln Forum; and earlier the Potomac School, and the Advisory Council of the James Madison Book Award. He is a nominator for the largest prize in the humanities, the $1.5 million John W Kluge award. He has also provided advice to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and was a juror for the prestigious George Washington book prize in 2008, and a recommender for the Heinz awards. His latest book, 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History (Simon & Schuster 2015) made it to the NY Times Bestseller List. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Jay Wink, Jay Winik, Professor Jay Winik

Works by Jay Winik

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Common Knowledge



Lots of first hand details, very sympathetic portrait of all the leaders in the civil war
cspiwak | 24 other reviews | Mar 6, 2024 |
Wow, what a book! I just finished reading The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800 by Jay Winik. As in all of the Jay Winik books I have read, the other two being April 1865: The Month That Saved America and 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History, they are dedicated titularly to very narrow periods of history. Of course this it is impossible to avoid straying outside those bounds, but this book is more faithful to the boundaries than the other two. Perhaps this is unfortunate for reasons I'll outline.

The Great Upheaval focuses on the American and French Revolutions and the bloody final days of Catherine the Great, Czarina of Russia. These countries' evolution during this period of time in large part foreshadowed their futures. America at that time was a fragile republic clinging to the Eastern third of the modern United States. France and Russia were, as of 1788 well-established empires on the verge of implosion. What is remarkable is how their changes during this period foreshadow modern eras in these countries, but regretfully the author passes of the opportunity, other than through tantalizing hints, to explore this. In Winik's defense the book was copyrighted in 2007, before Putin had evolved into the modern-day Czar and monster that he is. The book makes glancing references to the fact that even in the early 1790's, as France began its hellish descent into the Terror, people were already talking about moving to America, and some were actually doing it or trying to.

To use an expression attributed to Mark Twain, History Doesn't Repeat Itself, but It Often Rhymes. This book is a major commitment to read. It was well worthwhile, particularly for a history buff like myself. It did not take me two months to read; I read two other books in between.
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JBGUSA | 8 other reviews | Jan 2, 2023 |
The book lives up to the standard of excellence I have come to expect from this author from my previous reading of April 1865. His approach is unfailingly thorough and yet not dry. For those not familiar with Roosevelt's decidedly mixed record on the Holocaust, his information will be quite new and unfamiliar.

There are a few quibbles, even with the five stars: 1) too many double negatives in the text; 2) similar to my review of the book on Gerald Ford, "Say it When I'm Gone" there is a bit too much focus on his medical symptomatology as his health deteriorated. Many are just not that curious about the details and their repetition. Also he lets Roosevelt off a little easy on his craven surrender at Yalta to the USSR and his sponsorship of a flawed and largely useless UN.

These quibbles are somewhat understandable considering how universal the esteem for Roosevelt as a "great President" remains. The book's coverage of the other historical figures is excellent.

Overall a fast read and a good book.
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JBGUSA | 3 other reviews | Jan 2, 2023 |
I read April 1865 by Jay Winik during June 2102. The book was excellent, and summed up quite well why the Union had to win the Civil War. The story builds to the April 1865 climax, which embraced by the triumph of Appomattox and the despair of Lincoln' assassination. Winik is a great historian, who focuses on bite-sized portions of history rather than broad sweeps. I also read 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History by Jay Winik. Similar "bite-sized" history.

No less satisfying was The Proud Tower, by Barbara Tuchman. This is the "broad sweep"approach, which chronicled the deterioration of Europe during "La Belle Epoque", the period from 1890-1914.
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JBGUSA | 24 other reviews | Jan 2, 2023 |



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