So yesterday, I sat down and finished the last book I wanted to read for the War Through the Generations Civil War reading challenge.
For my third (and last) book, I picked And the War Came: The Six Months That Tore America Apart by Jamie Malanowski, published by Byliner. I purchased this copy and read it on my Kindle Fire.
Product description (from Amazon):
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Jamie Malanowski, lead writer of The New York Times’ highly acclaimed Disunion blog, masterfully recounts the origins of America’s greatest national tragedy in real time.
Drawing on diaries, speeches, and newspaper accounts of the six months leading up to the first shots fired on Fort Sumter, And the War Came chronicles the events that tore the nation apart, and delves into the hearts and minds of the men and women who tried in vain to avoid a conflict on American soil.
From the controversial election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 and the failed Crittenden Compromise to the secession of seven Southern states and the election of Jefferson Davis, Malanowski draws indelible portraits of the politicians and soldiers who controlled the country’s destiny. And by unfolding, week by week, the major issues and emotional nuances that led to the Civil War, he sheds new light on the darkest period in American history.
As Malanowski writes in the forward: The way we learn about history is strikingly at odds with the way we experience current events and life in general.
In the following pages, he does an excellent job of remedying this by presenting the six months that leading up to the Civil War in “real time.” In a combination of verbatim source material from diaries, speeches, editorials along with narrative written in mostly present tense, the era really comes alive.
I was immediately drawn into the narrative, which begins seven days before the election of 1860 and ends with the surrender of Fort Sumter. Each section, whether narrative, a diary entry, or an editorial, is fairly short. This makes the book fast paced and very easy to follow.
What it reminded me of is reading political blogs, news sites, and personal blogs. If you’re a news and political blog junkie, I think you’ll enjoy the way this book is written. Malanowski really does achieve his aim in putting us right there. A couple of times while I was reading, I had to pause and remind myself that the events described weren’t happening right now.
This is another one I recommend. It’s short, but packed with both information, attitude, and even humor (much of it at the expense of President Buchanan). If you’re looking for a quick, insightful way to round out your Civil War reading challenge, And the War Came: The Six Months That Tore America Apart by Jamie Malanowski would be a great choice.