Freedom

Freedom

4.0 2
by William Safire
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Subtitled "A Novel of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War,"Freedom plunges the listener into the reality and drama of the American Civil War, the most critical period in the life of our nation. Based on the real people who struggled and bled for what Southerners hailed as independence, and Northerners condemned as disunion, William Safire's novel explores the first

See more details below

Overview

Subtitled "A Novel of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War,"Freedom plunges the listener into the reality and drama of the American Civil War, the most critical period in the life of our nation. Based on the real people who struggled and bled for what Southerners hailed as independence, and Northerners condemned as disunion, William Safire's novel explores the first two years of this war-years that posed the question that reverberates today: How much freedom must be denied each American to protect and extend the freedom of all?

Safire's towering Lincoln looms as a figure of controversy as he approaches the moment of emancipation. This unforgettable Lincoln-far-seeing, grimly humorous, harsh and devious when necessary, tortured, and above all intensely purposeful-will surprise many of his countrymen who revere the myth without understanding the man.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Do national security concerns supersede guarantees of individual liberty? Does strict adherence to the principles of freedom prevent a free government from defending itself effectively? Does the minority have the right to dissolve a democracy? Was the Civil War inevitable, given the fundamental split over slavery, or was it brought on by a combination of well-meaning and greedy Northerners who wanted to dominate the South? Can a majority rule over a subjugated minority and remain a democracy? These are among the vital, timeless issues that Safire deftly grapples with in a prodigious, 1152-page work that is more history than fiction. That he succeeds in relaying the confusion, anguish and excitement of this critical period in American historythe 20 months from Lincoln's assumption of the presidency to the signing of his Emancipation Proclamationis a measure of his supple writing style and dedication to veracity. With its analysis of intricate legal, political and military issues, this is demanding fiction, but so assiduously documented that it will interest Civil War tyros and scholars as well as buffs. Safire censures Lincoln as a leader who ``as the war went on . . . grew more easy with the use of dictatorial power.'' He also emerges here as shrewd, manipulative, depressed, stubborn, determined to preserve the Union and majority rule at all costs, a ruthless president who conducted a purposely bloody war. His gradual turnabout from a policy of tolerating slavery where it existed to the bold emancipation of slaves in rebel states, as a strategy to sustain the fighting spirit of the North, is carefully chronicled. In a 130-page ``underbook,'' Safire separates fact from fiction and keenly judges various historical controversies: Was McClellan an overly cautious general, or was he acting according to his dovish Democratic political conscience? Safire vivifies the complexities and paradoxes of the era through such real-life characters as border-staters Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland, a well-connected pamphleteer, and John Breckinridge, a former vice-president and Kentucky senator turned Confederate general, whose family epitomized the fratricidal war. The Pulitzer Prizewinning New York Times columnist is also adept at depicting gripping battle scenes, the vicissitudes of politics and the fierce jockeying for supremacy among Lincoln's cabinet members, between the president and the military, the different branches of government and factions of the Republican party. The intimacies here are basically political; Safire contrives a few fictional romances, but they are sops to the genre, providing a prism through which to examine the characters or ``hatracks'' on which to hang information. Photos not seen by PW. Major ad/promo; BOMC main selection. (August 28)
Library Journal
The 20 months between Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus and his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation were perhaps the most crucial period in American history, a time when a lasting definition of American democracy was being forged by civil war. This enormous book is both an outstanding history of that critical time and a model historical novel. Over a hundred pages of notes testify to Safire's thorough research and present the carefully reasoned speculation justifying his imagining certain scenes. As a Civil War historian he is worthy of mention beside Bruce Catton or Shelby Foote. As a Civil War novelist, as the creator of a vividly compelling book, Safire is easily the equal of MacKinley Kantor, John Jakes, or Gore Vidal, and perhaps their superior. An impressive achievement, one of the very few truly significant Civil War novels. For most libraries. BOMC main selection. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib. , Randolph, Mass.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385159036
Publisher:
Doubleday Publishing
Publication date:
08/01/1987
Pages:
1125

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >