1861 by Adam Goodheart

1861, Adam Goodheart

In time for the 150th anniversary of our defining national event: an original and altogether gripping account of how the Civil War began.

1861 is an epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields. Early in that fateful year, Americans began to rally around an idea of remaking the country into a morally coherent stronghold of liberty. This second American revolution inspired a new generation to reject their parents’ faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal.

The book introduces us to a heretofore little-known cast of Civil War heroes—among them, an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer’s wife, a close-knit band of German immigrants, a regiment of New York City firemen, and a young college professor who would one day become president. Adam Goodheart takes us from the halls of the Capitol 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.

Read an excerpt

Click here for a sample from Chapter 5

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Author Events

Click here to find out where Adam Goodheart will discuss and sign his book!

Praise for 1861

1861 is the best book I have ever read on the start of the Civil War.” —Tony Horwitz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Confederates in the Attic

“A work of remarkable original scholarship crafted into an irresistible read.” —Harold Holzer, chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and author of Lincoln President-Elect

“Adam Goodheart brings to this book a rare combination of talent: passion and precision as a historian, grace and generosity as a writer.” —Richard Ben Cramer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Click through for more praise

Additional Content

Follow Adam Goodheart's posts on The New York Times's Disunion blog to read about the Civil War as it unfolded 150 years ago

How the Union Fell Apart: Goodheart discusses the tumultuous period between Lincoln's election and the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter

Breakfast with Adam Goodheart: An interview with The Chestertown Spy

John Wilkes Booth as Shakespeare's Richard III: Goodheart discusses Booth's prophetic performance

Adam Goodheart

About Adam Goodheart

Adam Goodheart is a historian, journalist, and travel writer. He is 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.
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