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.
Adam Goodheart is a historian, journalist, and travel writer. He will be writing a regular column on the Civil War for The New York Times online. He has written for National Geographic, Outside, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine, among others, and has worked as an editor of the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. He is a book reviewer for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the New York Observer. He lives in Washington, D.C., and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he is director of Washington College’s C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.