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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Doug on 07-16-12
Worth It For Serious Readers
Is putting Lincoln on the stand just a sham? Remember, Lincoln???s successor, Andrew Johnson, WAS impeached by the House of Representatives. Lincoln had VERY limited support in his own government. He DID suspend Habeas Corpus.
I assumed I would be reading a story with a strong opinion on Lincoln laced with modern preaching. I was dead wrong. I dare say there is some genius in this novel. Mr. Carter???s book is actually stunning in its scope and I never once felt a single moment of authorial intrusion. Thank God! The characters are independent and the course of the novel is driven by their actions. The author never shies away from allowing the actual members of the U.S. government to become fully engaged in this conflict. There are senators, congressmen, chief justices, and Civil War generals buzzing about Washington like angry hornets. Racism had bloody teeth back then and Abigail, an educated ???colored??? woman gives us an excellent lead character. She???s very real, very vulnerable, and very motivated to push to the dark center of a conspiracy.
I LOVED the book???s portrayal of the capital city. Washington D.C. is a half-constructed labyrinth of Byzantine politics, skullduggery, and even murder. I was there. I was surrounded.
I did not give the book 5 stars because it is very slow moving and takes quite some time for the effects of the tale to take hold of you. The plot lines are heavily dialogue-driven. So, instead of FOX News fireworks, you???ll get something more akin to C-SPAN. That said, if you can weather the chatter of lawyers and politicians, you will be pleased to find yourself submerged into the deep waters of a fully imagined era.
In the end, Mr. Carter???s novel explores the phenomenon of a moral debate when it enters the arena of power politics. A moral position can be massacred by legal sharpshooters who serve powerful people. However, time is a courtroom with a jury of generations. History always issues the final verdict.
25 of 26 people found this review helpful
By Teresa Lukey on 08-06-12
Not exactly what I was hoping
I was expecting to have more face time with Lincoln in this novel, unfortunately the double murder of an attorney and a black woman take center stage and the impeachment becomes more of a side show for most of the book. I think the idea behind this book was creative, but it just didn't hit the mark for me.
As far as the conspiracy theory and the mystery behind the murders, it did keep my attention as a mystery, but I found myself relatively detached from Lincoln's impeachment as a result. Someone familiar with the language of the law world may enjoy this book more than I did, since the author is an attorney, but I just found it overwhelming.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful