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Monday, October 12, 2015

AFTER LINCOLN: HOW the NORTH WON the WAR and LOST the PEACE (audiobook) by A.J. Langguth

Audio edition published by Tantor Audio in September of 2014
Read by Tom Perkins
Duration: 13 hours, 29 minutes

Years ago, when I reviewed Doris Kearns Goodwin's monumental history of the Lincoln Administration, Team of Rivals, I noted that it was way too long and that I wished she had made it even longer by continuing to write about this team as they transitioned into the Andrew Johnson Administration. This book is similar to Team of Rivals in that it looks at individuals in the Lincoln Administration (and thus covers a lot of territory covered more thoroughly by Doris Kearns Goodwin) but it does continue on.
Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877)

The book is mostly detailed through a series of biographies, ranging from Lincoln to Charles Sumner to the conspirators in the Lincoln assassination to O.O. Howard and even to Nathan Bedford Forrest. After Lincoln covers a lot of ground without really coming up with anything new, at least not for this serious student of the Civil War.

Most histories of Reconstruction talk about the Freedman's Bureau and the African-Americans that were sent to Congress and then just kind of drift off to some discussion of carpetbaggers and the Ku Klux Klan and the deal that ended Reconstruction without much discussion or insight into what happened to change the national mood and let Black Americans lose so much of what they had gained.

This book offers no new analysis, either. It does pick a few people, some famous, some infamous and some relatively unknown and follow them throughout the lead-up to the Civil War, through the War and into Reconstruction. Sometimes, their stories are interesting, sometimes not so much.

I listened to this as an audiobook so it is difficult for me to measure exactly how much space was devoted to the three segments of the book that I mentioned before: Before the war, the war itself and after the war. By far the most interesting, and I think the most detailed section was the first one. The end of the book felt rushed and the rich story-telling just was not there like it was in the first part.

Tom Perkins read the audiobook. He did a good job, including actually creating voices for some of the historical personalities.

I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here:  
After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace

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