Sunday, April 26, 2009
Some History Lessons
I just finished reading April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik and highly recommend it.
Mr. Winik writes with some persuasion that the manner in which the Civil War ended, and the actions of a few important people (namely Lee, Lincoln, Grant and Sherman) enabled the United States to become the United States after the Civil War, rather than a group of United States. He also writes of the transfer of power after the unthinkable assassination of Abraham Lincoln to the Vice President, Andrew Johnson. Personally, I still find it hard to believe the nation was able to overcome the actions of President Johnson and the experiences of Reconstruction, but the book just barely mentions events after May 1865.
The descriptions of the events leading up to the end of the Civil War were riveting. I kept thinking to myself, "It's not as if I don't know how this ends..." but I still couldn't put it down. In truth, though, my knowledge of the Civil War was apparently only rudimentary as I learned a great deal from the book. (I kept asking Kansas Dad, "Did you know...?" and was disappointed that he usually did.)
Coincidentally, I am also reading a childhood favorite of mine set in the same time period (though far removed from the war and its end), Caddie Woodlawn. It's just as delightful as I remember it! I recently learned there is a sequel (Caddie Woodlawn's Family (Magical Melons)) and I wanted to read the original again first.