The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation (Hardcover)

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“This absorbing and important book recounts the titanic struggle over the implications of the Civil War amid the impeachment of a defiant and temperamentally erratic American president.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of America

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and Vice-President Andrew Johnson became “the Accidental President,” it was a dangerous time in America. Congress was divided over how the Union should be reunited: when and how the secessionist South should regain full status, whether former Confederates should be punished, and when and whether black men should be given the vote. Devastated by war and resorting to violence, many white Southerners hoped to restore a pre–Civil War society, if without slavery, and the pugnacious Andrew Johnson seemed to share their goals. With the unchecked power of executive orders, Johnson ignored Congress, pardoned rebel leaders, promoted white supremacy, opposed civil rights, and called Reconstruction unnecessary. It fell to Congress to stop the American president who acted like a king.

With profound insights and making use of extensive research, Brenda Wineapple dramatically evokes this pivotal period in American history, when the country was rocked by the first-ever impeachment of a sitting American president. And she brings to vivid life the extraordinary characters who brought that impeachment forward: the willful Johnson and his retinue of advocates—including complicated men like Secretary of State William Seward—as well as the equally complicated visionaries committed to justice and equality for all, like Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and Ulysses S. Grant. Theirs was a last-ditch, patriotic, and Constitutional effort to render the goals of the Civil War into reality and to make the Union free, fair, and whole.

Advance praise for The Impeachers

“In this superbly lyrical work, Brenda Wineapple has plugged a glaring hole in our historical memory through her vivid and sweeping portrayal of President Andrew Johnson’s 1868 impeachment. She serves up not simply food for thought but a veritable feast of observations on that most trying decision for a democracy: whether to oust a sitting president. Teeming with fiery passions and unforgettable characters, The Impeachers will be devoured by contemporary readers seeking enlightenment on this issue. . . . A landmark study.”—Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Grant

About the Author


Brenda Wineapple is the author of several books including Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877, named a best book of the year by The New York Times, among other publications; White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Hawthorne: A Life, winner of the Ambassador Award for Best Biography of the Year; and Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein. Her numerous other honors include a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Pushcart Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, two National Endowment Fellowships in the Humanities, and, most recently, a National Endowment Public Scholars Award. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians and regularly contributes to major publications such as The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and The Nation.

Praise For…


“In this superbly lyrical work, Brenda Wineapple has plugged a glaring hole in our historical memory through her vivid and sweeping portrayal of President Andrew Johnson’s 1868 impeachment. She serves up not simply food for thought but a veritable feast of observations on that most trying decision for a democracy: whether to oust a sitting president. Teeming with fiery passions and unforgettable characters, The Impeachers will be devoured by contemporary readers seeking enlightenment on this issue. . . . A landmark study.”—Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Grant

“The past, as William Faulkner taught us, is never dead; it isn’t even past. In this absorbing and important book, Brenda Wineapple recounts the titanic struggle over the implications of the Civil War amid the impeachment of a defiant and temperamentally erratic American president: Andrew Johnson. Readers seeking to make sense of the perennial national tension between hope and fear will find much to ponder in these pages.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Soul of America

“Fans of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals will appreciate how Wineapple’s narrative carries forward the saga of the men Lincoln so relied on during the Civil War.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Her arguments are novel and her prose lively. . . . This book has much to offer enthusiasts of both historical and contemporary American politics.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A superb contribution to presidential history.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

The Impeachers is a historical barn burner of a book—a vivid cast of characters caught in a terrifying and eerily familiar moment in our nation’s history. This is history of the best kind—passionate, evocative, razor-sharp, and relevant.”—Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Hurrican’s Eye

“With scholarly authority and literary grace, Brenda Wineapple has written the best account we have of the impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson. The Impeachers clarifies, as only a responsible historical work can, an increasingly urgent public question: by what standards ought Congress to consider impeaching and removing a sitting president? As ever, Wineapple's work exemplifies how objectivity need not come at the expense of dramatic engagement, let alone shrewd personal and political judgments.”—Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Princeton University

“This is a terrific book. In The Impeachers, Brenda Wineapple’s wide-ranging research, her astonishing skill at painting vivid word portraits, and her masterful storytelling combine to turn one of the least-understood events in American history into the momentous, suspenseful national drama it really was. Not to be missed.”—Geoffrey C. Ward, author of A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, 1905–1928


Product Details
ISBN: 9780812998368
ISBN-10: 0812998367
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: May 21st, 2019
Pages: 576
Language: English

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