Praise for Every Drop of Blood :
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (History)
“ Every Drop of Blood, despite the imagery of its title, isn’t about battles. Its primary focus is on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, 1865, the day before and the day of Lincoln’s second inauguration, and the speech he would deliver that day . . . Achorn analyzes the speech as an artifact of its time and author. He tracks its imagery and explores how and why Lincoln chose the words he used . . . A good read in our own era, reminding us that no matter how badly divided we feel now, as a nation we’ve been through worse.” Providence Journal
“Its strength lies less in the events themselves than in the elaborate detail and rich historical context that he musters . . . By the end, as well as mourning Lincoln’s fate, American readers might wish for another chance at politics without malice and with charity to all.” Economist
“Invaluable . . . A small masterpiece, brilliant in concept and exquisite in execution . . . With skill and massive research, Achorn brings it all into one place on one day for us to see, feel, and ponder.” Llewellyn King, InsideSources
“Drawing on historical wizardrydiaries, accounts, and memoirsAchorn has assembled a prismatic portrait of that fateful day which reads like one long rolling dolly shot of history.” Literary Hub
“Meticulously chronicles President Lincoln’s March 1865 inauguration in this kaleidoscopic history. Drawing from diaries, letters, memoirs, and newspaper reports, Achorn frames a poignant yet familiar portrait of Lincoln with the accounts of several figures who converged in Washington, D.C., for the inaugural address . . . He skillfully plumbs his sources for colorful details and draws memorable character sketches. History buffs will savor this evocative narrative.” Publishers Weekly
“The author provides rich description of a wide cast of people, including politicians, poets, soldiers, and nurses . . . Achorn is especially insightful in setting the scene for the inaugural, going deep inside the social world of the capital and remarking on the constant positioning for favor or notice . . . A solid history that will allow readers to feel as if they are in the moment.” Library Journal
“A vigorous, fresh look at a critical time in American history.” Kirkus Reviews
“Achorn provides a rich, heavily psychological portrait [of Lincoln] . . . A moving chronicle of the country on the eve of assassination.” Booklist
“It is hard to imagine anyone saying anything new about Abraham Lincoln, the most written-about figure in American history. But Edward Achorn has done it. No one has ever placed Lincoln’s Second Inaugural in such a full and rich context as he has. Achorn recreates the sights, sounds, smells, and the feel of everything, and his Lincoln was never more real. This is the work of a superb imaginative historian.” Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire of Liberty
“This richly detailed account of the events surrounding Lincoln’s second inaugural address focuses on the many notable and obscure personalities present in Washington as the Civil War neared its end, including such opposites as Frederick Douglass and John Wilkes Booth, whose lives intersected with Lincoln’s in dramatically contrasting ways.” James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“A lively, highly readable account of the people, eventsand threatssurrounding Lincoln’s second inauguration.” Joanne Freeman, author of The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War
“Prize-worthy. Achorn is erudite and empathetic, and the book is chock-full of information and telling insights. Achorn sets the scene for the greatest inaugural address in American history.” Frank J. Williams, founder of The Lincoln Forum and author of Judging Lincoln
“A magisterial analysis not only of Lincoln’s second inaugural but of the context in which it was given. Achorn’s keen eye for the meaningful detail reveals new layers of meaning to both a familiar speech and the divided nation that received them. His gift for telling a good story makes it a must-read for historians and general readers alike.” Maury Klein, author of Days of Defiance and A Call to Arms
Achorn (The Summer of Beer and Whiskey) enters the crowded field of Abraham Lincoln studies by focusing on the people in and around Washington, DC, during the immediate days of the president's second inauguration in March 1865. The author provides rich description of a wide cast of people, including politicians, poets, soldiers, and nurses—both those had an interest in Lincoln and the prospects for his second term, as well as others who opposed Lincoln's election in 1864 or sought to undo it in 1865. Achorn is especially insightful in setting the scene for the inaugural, going deep inside the social world of the capital and remarking on the constant positioning for favor or notice. His revealing exegesis of Lincoln's Second Inaugural (shortly before his assassination), as a prayer and sermon more than an address, shows how Lincoln's understanding of scripture informed his reading of the meaning of the Civil War and the nation's obligations from it. VERDICT Although Achorn doesn't offer new interpretations of Lincoln or his speech, he does, however, provide the fullest accounting of the inauguration experience. A solid history that will allow readers to feel as if they are in the moment.—Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Abraham Lincoln, a now-revered president, wasn't always so beloved.
In a capable history of the events of 1865, Providence Journal vice president Achorn (The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game, 2013, etc.) opens with the sanguinary situation that faced the president when hundreds of thousands of Americans lay dead as a result of a Civil War that threatened to grind on. Lincoln, writes the author, had "used every weapon he could get his hands on" to secure Union victory, from incurring massive federal debts to imposing the first income tax, suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and inaugurating a military draft. Such moves gave ammunition to those who would brand him a tyrant, in the North as well as the South. Lincoln's enemies were legion, among them John Wilkes Booth, who by the time of Lincoln's second inauguration had developed a fixation around the president and indeed set out to kill him as he was being sworn in, having told friends, "I would rather have my right arm cut off at the shoulder than see Lincoln president again." There are plenty of scenes in which combatants are losing limbs for real, a bloodletting that Robert E. Lee finally tried to stanch by negotiating a truce with Ulysses S. Grant in the winter of 1865, one that Lincoln refused to entertain unless the parley resulted in unconditional surrender. "The generals had plainly tried to go around the president to strike the peace deal that had eluded Lincoln," Achorn writes, and Lincoln would have none of it. He lived only a few days after Lee finally surrendered at Appomattox, assassinated in a Washington theater and carried off to die in an apartment nearby because some of the people on hand to attend him "were concerned that a president should not die in a theater, a place that many religious Americans still considered unrespectable."
A vigorous, fresh look at a critical time in American history.