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This is the first book written about the Hampton Road Peace Conference of the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward met with three representatives of the South to negotiate a peace. The Confederate representatives were Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, Senator Robert Hunter and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell.
Conroy details the events leading up to the conference, during the conference, and after the conference. The book illuminates the conflicting, passionate views on the Civil War.
Conroy’s research of the topic is quite impressive, he drew on private journals, official notes, and newspapers reports and archived documents. Conroy writes about the statistics but also mentions long forgotten soldiers, such as Pvt. George Deutzer of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers who lost his life, when one the cease fires attendant to the peace conference ended. Throughout the book Conroy has information on the common soldier and civilians, their names and what they were doing, to make the story come alive.
Conroy details how the conference was paralyzed by hyper-partisanship, zealotry, and personal pettiness. The author vividly captures the hope, weariness, despair, and anger and the complexity of feelings on both sides. The author gives most of the blame for the failure of the peace negotiation on the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
I enjoyed this book in many ways it read like a novel. I think it would make a great movie. If you are interested in the Civil War this is a must read book. Malcohm Hillgartner did an excellent job narrating the story.
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