April 1865: The Month That Saved America

April 1865: The Month That Saved America

by Jay Winik


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The New York Times bestselling chronicle of the Civil War's final days that will forever change the way we see the war's end and the nation's new beginning.

It was a month that could have unravelled the American nation. Instead, it saved it. In April 1865, Jay Winik masterfully breathes new life into the end of a war and the events we only thought we knew. This gripping, panoramic narrative takes readers on a breathless ride through these tumultuous thirty days, showing that the nation's future rested on a few crucial decisions and twists of fate. Here is Richmond's dramatic fall, Lee's harrowing retreat, and the intense debate in Confederate circles over unleashing guerrilla warfare. Here, too, is the rebel surrender at Appomattox, Lincoln's assassination five days later, and the ensuing fears of chaos and a coup, the shaky transfer of presidential power, and finally the start of national reconciliation. Outsized characters stalk through sweeping events in Winik's brilliant narrative, transforming a seeming epilogue to a great war into a central and saving moment in American history, firmly placing April 1865 in the same pantheon as 1492 and 1776.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060899684
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/15/2006
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 134,568
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jay Winik is the author of the New York Times bestseller April 1865. He is a senior scholar of history and public policy at the University of Maryland and a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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April 1865: The Month That Saved America 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
zippy995 More than 1 year ago
The first third of the book involves the build-up to "the month", with emphasis on Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee as intelligent, noble, but conflicted Southerners. You learn why the Confederacy formed and why it persisted when the military odds against it became insumountable. This part of the book is a bit sterile and distant, as there are few interpersonal relationships. When the book actually enters April, 1865, the tact of the book changes, with good descriptions of President Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, U.S. Grant, President Johnson, Edwin Stanton, and Charles Sumner. The threats and opportunities for disaster to the Union are well-played, and the intrigue is palpable. This book is heavily referenced, almost 1/6 of the total length of the book. Definitely a book for the history buff rather than general reader, but don't confuse this as dry academics. If you're looking to improve on your high school U.S. history, this is a good "chapter", but also add to it "chapters" on December, 1776; August, 1813; April, 1845; and November, 1963.
Hannibal65 More than 1 year ago
Superb ...This book is not just a great read, but a revelation of the country's most precarious era...April 1865 was definitively "the month the saved America."...Hats off to Mr. Winik.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. I'm a student of history, but not much of a Civil War buff. I thought I knew most of the important information, but this book brought the entire period and people to life for me. This book should become required reading for students of American History.
jweb628 More than 1 year ago
Phenomenal! Reads like a mystery novel, a genuine page turner. While focused on the particular time of April 1865, it really spans the whole of the conflict and it's build up as well. Incredible analysis of critical events and individuals while keeping in touch with the grand flow of forces both social and military. It touched me on a human level and made me gasp, tear up and rejoice. I didn't want it to end. Now I want, no, NEED to learn more about this pivotal time in our country's history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with Jennifer. It should be read by all history students. So, I placed an order for all 60 of my 8th grade students to read the book this coming April for the US History class that I teach. The book is definitely a must read. Enjoyable and enlightening.
RebekahLyn More than 1 year ago
I love history and found this book absolutely refreshing. From the very first sentence I knew this wasn't going to be a dry, boring essay on the Civil War. It brought Lee & Grant to life and kept me captivated throughout. When I finished reading I looked at both generals and Lincoln in a whole new light.
scott-daniel More than 1 year ago
Massive disappointment. Mr. Winik seems more interested in playing the role of contrarian than actual documentarian of the topic. He continuously impugns Lincoln as a political opportunist while extolling the virtues of Lee and Johnston as Southern gentlemen. One gets the feeling that if Mr. Winik was born 150 years earlier he would have been a PR flack for the Confederate States of America.
Tim_in_Virginia_Beach More than 1 year ago
I read this book around the time of my first extensive trip to Tennessee's Civil War battlefields. Thought this would be a timely read. Turned out to be even more than I hoped. It taught me new insights into the events and personalities of our country's greatest and costliest (in human lives) struggle. Thanks for a great read! -Tim in Virginia Beach
lovingreaderKJ More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading it, and, JUST like "The Great Upheaval", there is knowledge for the reader on each and every page!! O, that authors like him and David McCullough had come along 30-40 years ago. Keep 'em coming, Mr. Winik!!!!
DannyfromTupelo More than 1 year ago
As a civil war buff I really enjoyed the writer's review of the waning days of the civil war. He also placed some nice mini-biographies in the book of some of the major players discussed in the book. I really didn't learn anything new in the book that I haven't read in a dozen other books, but what makes a book like this worth reading is how the author does a nice job keeping the story flowing so you almost feel you are reading a novel. I almost thought I was reading a David McCullough book and that Mr. Winik is a compliment.
Home_Librarian More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent account of the Civil War. This is thorough and so in depth. The research done is incredible. All students should be given this book to learn what the war was all about and the devastation it caused. The end result is our current country, but the cost was tremendous. Abraham Lincoln was a remarkable President in this time of our history. It's no wonder he is so revered! I recommend this book to anyone that likes history or just wants a good read.
writer-historyreader More than 1 year ago
Well researched, Winik gave us a day by day, and in some cases hour by hour walk through of a critical time in our history. I had not realized some of the ticking time bombs the original Founding Fathers left in their work, but Jay lays it on the line. It could have gone so different.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent story teller. Mr. Wink makes the people and events come alive. The sub title is apt as the thrust of the story is how lucky the USA is to still be one nation. I will highly recommend the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This title is well written as to how things were during the waning days of the civil war and the days that came after. I found there to be details about the military commanders and political leaders of North and South which I had not known before. If you have an interest in the war between the states and how it all finally ended as well as the concerns that President Lincoln and General Grant had before the Confederate surrender, then this title may be for you. This is a recommended read if your interest lies this way.
boxes More than 1 year ago
I loved reading and learning from this book. I think it was a very fair approach giving you the point of view from both the north and south. I am so glad I read it.
glauver 10 months ago
I thought Jay Winik's The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800 was an original history of the close of the 18th century. As you might expect from its title, April 1865: The Month That Saved America is about the end of the Civil War. This book is much narrower in its scope, focusing on Lincoln, Lee, Grant, and the other players in the drama that concluded the war. There isn't really much new here except analysis. Winik wants the reader to realize that the Civil War did not have to inevitably end peacefully; the Confederacy could have prolonged the conflict by breaking up its armies and resorting to a guerrilla strategy. He cites many other similar conflicts that dissolved into bloody quagmires. He ends the book by advising us that what was gained in the peace of 1865 can easily be lost. Almost two decades from the publication of April 1865, the era of Trump gives his warning a chilling resonance.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It¿s unbelievable how much hangs on the simplest details. An error in a shipping order, an individual¿s mood, these things can affect the fate of a nation. In April 1865 we¿re given an in-depth look at the final days of the Civil War and the resonating effect they had on the USA. One of the things that stood out to me was how vital the character of the leaders was. If Grant or Lee or some of the others had wanted the war to continue they could have made very different choices. They men on both sides truly wanted peace in the end and their magnanimous actions prevented further bloodshed. Before reading this I had a pretty good grasp of both Lincoln and Lee¿s personal histories, but I knew very little about Grant¿s background. This book expanded my knowledge on all three men and gave me a much better understanding of the parts they all played. It also taught me just how controversial some of their decisions were. Winik¿s voice worked well for me. He balanced the details and the big picture, giving just enough of both. He focused on individual¿s motivations, not just outcomes. He delved farther back, into the creation of our nation and Jefferson¿s role in that, to set the stage for the Civil War. If you want to learn more about the Civil War and America¿s history, this book does a wonderful job.
Randyflycaster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
APRIL 1865 is a one of the best history book I ever read.Through detail and imagery Jay Winik brings events and characters to life; and tells an emotionally moving story, partly because he he able to see things from different perspectives and show that there is not always black or white.In addition, Winik clearly has a take on the forces that drive history. (His book, therefore, has a message. I won't give it away.)
bookchewer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Overwritten and overwrought.
cyderry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At the end of the Civil War, it is startling that so much occurred in the "final" month. The Confederate Army, led by Robert E. Lee, made one last ditch effort to elude the Union forces of Ulysses Grant but on April 9, 1865 surrendered at Appomattox Court House. Less than a week later, Abraham Lincoln lies dead, assassinated by John Wilkes Booth and Andrew Johnson is the new President. Confederate General Johnston disobeyed Jefferson Davis' orders to fight on and surrendered to Sherman.The end of hostilities came in 1865 and possibly, Lincoln would have agreed with Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General, when he said "You have been good soldiers, you can be good citizens. Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the government to which you have surrendered can afford to be and will be magnanimous."This book relates the details of these events as well as the background that brought about these results. However, IMHO, it is not well written. If this book is to be constituted as a book of historical fact, then it needs to be severely edited. There are far too many personal observations and conclusions interspersed throughout as well as a jumpy writing style. The author frequently leaves one thought process hanging moving on to another and then jumps back to where he left off. I have no doubt that Professor Winik has researched his topic diligently, however, I believe that this book of 606 pages with another 101 of footnotes could have been more concise if the author's opinions had been eliminated and the conclusions left to be evaluated by the reader with just the facts stated.
boeflak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Incredible achievement. Makes one almost wish for a time machine to experience such an extraordinary month. Broadens the spotlight on Lincoln's assassination, showing that it was far more extensive and had other victims. Wilkes' plan was to decapitate the entire U.S. government in a single evening - and he nearly succeeded.
jerryL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent.If you don't think history can turn on a dime, this book will change your mind. One of the best I've ever read on the subject...and I'm a bit of a buff, so I do not say that lightly.
Schneider on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fast paced bio-history of the month that altered the course not only of American history, but of world history. In "April 1865: The Month That Saved America", author Jay Winik breaks down the aforementioned month into the events that took places and the central characters that participated in each event during the month. The entire book is not all about what took place during the fourth month of ¿65; the author gives the reader history of a particular subject when needed or required. I found Winik's writing style is very readable and unrelenting. He keeps the imagination fully engaged with the what-ifs, what could have beens, and what was. I consider this to be a must for any American Civil War enthusiast, history buff, or those who just enjoy a good book.
1967mustangman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book. Reviews the events of April 1865. Lots of amaizing interesting stories. Possible Gorrila Warfare. Amzaing cirtumstances that if only one had been different could have swing the outcome of the war.
Patloveshistory More than 1 year ago
This was a great read for us civil war/history buffs. I'm from Richmond and love reading the history about the local area.