The Impeachers: Book summary and reviews of The Impeachers by Brenda Wineapple

The Impeachers

The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation

by Brenda Wineapple

The Impeachers by Brenda Wineapple X
The Impeachers by Brenda Wineapple
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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A superb contribution to presidential history." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[D]etailed and lucidly written...This book has much to offer enthusiasts of both historical and contemporary American politics." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"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)

"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...The Impeachers will be devoured by contemporary readers seeking enlightenment on this issue...A landmark study." - Ron Chernow, Pulitzer author of Grant

"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, author of The Soul of America

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Author Information

Brenda Wineapple

Brenda Wineapple is the author of several books including Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877, named a best book of 2013 by the New York Times among many other publications; White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson,a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner for the Marfield Prize for Arts Writing; and Hawthorne: A Life, winner of the Ambassador Award for Best Biography of 2003, as well as Sister Brother Gertrude and Leo Stein, and Genêt: A Life of Janet Flanner.

She's received 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. An elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians, she 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.

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