Lincoln's contradictions, compassion, and complexity color this vivid account of his Second Inaugural and the end of the Civil War. The celebratory, yet tense, atmosphere of Washington D.C. is evoked through descriptions of its muddy streets, galas, and throngs of citizens, including luminaries Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman, and future assassin John Wilkes Booth. — Mike Hare
Edward Achorn reveals the nation's capital on that momentous day--with its mud, sewage, and saloons, its prostitutes, spies, reporters, social-climbing spouses and power-hungry politicians--as a microcosm of all the opposing forces that had driven the country apart. A host of characters, unknown and famous, had converged on Washington--from grievously wounded Union colonel Selden Connor in a Washington hospital and the embarrassingly drunk new vice president, Andrew Johnson, to poet-journalist Walt Whitman; from soldiers' advocate Clara Barton and African American leader and Lincoln critic-turned-admirer Frederick Douglass (who called the speech "a sacred effort") to conflicted actor John Wilkes Booth--all swirling around the complex figure of Lincoln.
In indelible scenes, Achorn vividly captures the frenzy in the nation's capital at this crucial moment in America's history and the tension-filled hope and despair afflicting the country as a whole, soon to be heightened by Lincoln's assassination. His story offers new understanding of our great national crisis, and echoes down the decades to resonate in our own time.