This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and with the sesquicentennial has come renewed debate about the factors that drove the nation to war. In 1861: The Civil War Awakening, author Adam Goodheart offers a fresh perspective on the war’s beginnings and portrays some of the little-known figures who played important roles during that fateful year. Among those profiled are an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer’s wife, a regiment of New York City firemen, a close-knit band of German immigrants and a young college professor, James J. Garfield, who would later become president. Goodheart’s vivid writing and unique approach gives readers new insight on the beginnings of the long struggle that nearly destroyed the Union.
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