1861: The Civil War Awakening

  • by Adam Goodheart
  • Narrated by Jonathan Davis
  • 18 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of our defining national drama, 1861 presents a gripping and original account of how the Civil War began.
1861 is an epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields. Early in that fateful year, a second American revolution unfolded, inspiring a new generation to reject their parents' faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal. It set Abraham Lincoln on the path to greatness and millions of slaves on the road to freedom.
The book introduces us to a heretofore little-known cast of Civil War heroes - among them an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer's wife, an idealistic band of German immigrants, a regiment of New York City firemen, a community of Virginia slaves, and a young college professor who would one day become president. Adam Goodheart takes us from the corridors of the White House to the slums of Manhattan, from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the deserts of Nevada, from Boston Common to Alcatraz Island, vividly evoking the Union at this moment of ultimate crisis and decision.

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What the Critics Say



Audie Award Winner, History, 2012

“With boundless verve, Adam Goodheart has sketched an uncommonly rich tableau of America on the cusp of the Civil War. The research is impeccable, the cast of little-known characters we are introduced to is thoroughly fascinating, the book is utterly thought-provoking, and the story is luminescent. What a triumph.” (Jay Winik, author of New York Times best-sellers April 1865 and The Great Upheaval)
"Engrossing .... Tension is palpable on every page .... Goodheart's book is an impressive accomplishment, a delightful read, and a valuable contribution that will entertain and challenge." (Harvard Magazine)
"Exhilarating ... inspiring ... irresistible ... 1861 creates the uncanny illusion that the reader has stepped into a time machine." (New York Times Book Review, cover review)
"In his marvelous book... Goodheart brings us into 19th-century America, as ambiguous, ambitious and fractured as the times we live in now, and he brings to pulsing life the hearts and minds of its American citizens." (Huffington Post)
“Jonathan Davis's narration sets the scene with hints of foreboding, creating a feeling of tension about the impending war. He draws listeners into stories of people like recaptured slave Lucy Bagby and future president James Garfield….Goodheart's meticulous research and lively writing will appeal to any history buff.” (AudioFile)
"Beautifully written and thoroughly original--quite unlike any other Civil War book out there." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not what I expected

I was expecting another Civil War shoot-em up, with endless battle details. This book was terrific and dealt with the deeply rooted causes of this war. I have read and listened to many books on this conflict, but I learned many things I had never known. One of the most surprising was that Northern abolitionists loved the Declaration of Independence, yet felt totally betrayed by the Constitution.

The author traces the progress of ideas through the lives and writings of important historical figures who we seldom hear about.
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- Sol

Wide Awake

I don't know what to praise more- the info in this book, the narration, or the writing. After a while, you begin to ask how many Civil War books can a nation produce? What new can be said and done? This book is unique in that it focuses more on the attitudes and influences on the time leading up to the full-blown war. Yes, I knew what a Wide Awake was before reading this book, but this author succeeded in truly making me 'feel' what a seventeen year old kid in New England must have felt as he saw his friends donning capes and deciding to stand against disunion. This book has a sort of magic to it that other civil war books lack. I have enjoyed very much Battle Cry of Freedom, and books like it that lay out the battles and the results of each, but this book truly enriched my understanding of what someone like me (And very likely these people were my ancestors) felt as he/she had to choose whether to lay down their life to make way for a truly free America.
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- Parola138

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-05-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios