CRF Blog

1861: The Civil War Awakening

by Bill Hayes

The New York Times recently reviewed Adam Goodheart’s 1861: The Civil War Awakening, which examines the beginning of the Civil War. Goodheart directs the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College. He frequently contributes to Disunion, the New York Times’ Civil War blog, which uses contemporary accounts, diaries, images, and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded on this day 150 years ago.

From the front-page review of the New York Times Book Review:

The election of Lincoln and the secession crisis is, of course, familiar terrain. But Goodheart’s version is at once more panoramic and more intimate than most standard accounts, and more inspiring. This is fundamentally a history of hearts and minds, rather than of legislative bills and battles. He traces the process by which the states that did not secede evolved, in less than a year, from a deeply divided, intensely ambivalent and decidedly racist population into a genuine Union, united by the hope of creating a nation that would fulfill the promises of 1776. This is the story of the thousands of Americans who responded to the crisis, as Goodheart puts it, “not just with anger and panic but with hope and determination, people who, amid the ruins of the country they had grown up in, saw an opportunity to change history.” [more]

Below Goodheart is interviewed about his book.