Synopses & Reviews
“This absorbing and important book recounts the titanic struggle over the implications of the Civil War amid the impeachment of a defiant and temperamentally erratic American president.” — Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of America
When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and Vice President Andrew Johnson became “the Accidental President,” it was a dangerous time in America. Congress was divided over how the Union should be reunited: when and how the secessionist South should regain full status, whether former Confederates should be punished, and when and whether black men should be given the vote. Devastated by war and resorting to violence, many white Southerners hoped to restore a pre-Civil War society, if without slavery, and the pugnacious Andrew Johnson seemed to share their goals. With the unchecked power of executive orders, Johnson ignored Congress, pardoned rebel leaders, promoted white supremacy, opposed civil rights, and called Reconstruction unnecessary. It fell to Congress to stop the American president who acted like a king.
With profound insights and making use of extensive research, Brenda Wineapple dramatically evokes this pivotal period in American history, when the country was rocked by the first-ever impeachment of a sitting American president. And she brings to vivid life the extraordinary characters who brought that impeachment forward: the willful Johnson and his retinue of advocates — including complicated men like Secretary of State William Seward — as well as the equally complicated visionaries committed to justice and equality for all, like Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and Ulysses S. Grant. Theirs was a last-ditch, patriotic, and Constitutional effort to render the goals of the Civil War into reality and to make the Union free, fair, and whole.
“Fans of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals will appreciate how Wineapple’s narrative carries forward the saga of the men Lincoln so relied on during the Civil War.” Booklist (Starred Review)
“Her arguments are novel and her prose lively....This book has much to offer enthusiasts of both historical and contemporary American politics.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A superb contribution to presidential history.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Brenda Wineapple is the author of the award-winning Hawthorne: A Life, Genêt: A Biography of Janet Flanner, and Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in many publications, among them The American Scholar, The New York Times Book Review, Parnassus, Poetry, and The Nation. A Guggenheim fellow, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and twice of the National Endowment for the Humanities, she teaches in the MFA programs at Columbia University and The New School and lives in New York City.
Brenda Wineapple on PowellsBooks.Blog
All my books begin with a question, and so The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation
began with a question inspired by Ecstatic Nation
: Why neither I nor many other people knew much about the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, the first-ever impeachment of an American president...