1861: The Civil War Awakening

This is a wonderful, brisk exploration by a talented historian of the Civil War’s first year.  Adam Goodheart tells the story of America’s descent into conflict through sketches of memorable characters who may be unfamiliar now, but who were very well known to the country then.  These include the commandant of Fort Sumner, the young military officer whose tragic death plunged President Abraham Lincoln into despair, and the three slaves whose escape to freedom helped alter public opinion in the North and seal the fate of the South’s “peculiar institution.”  This is a great read.    

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The Triumph of William McKinley

This book offers a fresh look at President William McKinley, whose 1896 campaign defeated William Jennings Bryan, ended a period of bitter gridlock, and reformed and modernized his party. The 1896 election is a drama in its own right, but McKinley's transformative political strategies and campaign tactics offer important lessons for both political parties today who face a similar landscape and many of the same challenges.

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