April 1865: The Month that Saved America | Jay Winik

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2020: Book #19

“To end slavery he would have to preserve the Union.
To preserve the Union, he would have to win the war.
And to win the war he would have to hold the fragile coalition together.”

That’s a quote from Jay Winik’s book, “April 1865: The Month that Saved America.”

You should know up front that Winik is my favorite historian.
His writing is nothing short of perfection.
For him, history is a story to be told and he weaves it masterfully.

This book includes the battles of the Civil War, Sherman’s march, Grant’s victory, Lee’s surrender, Davis’ flee and Lincoln’s assassination.

Here’s a particular telling passage:

“The marriage was a curious one, and in countless ways, the two couldn’t have been more different. He loved humor; she had none at all. He grew up on dirt floors; she was served by slaves and attended finishing school. She was neat and fastidious; he was rumpled and disorganized, both at home and at the office. She insisted upon servants; he often did not file and would not keep a clerk. And if he was disconsolate, she could also be nasty and difficult…More than once she drove him from the home in anger, at least once while brandishing a broomstick; another time, she chased him down the street while waving a knife.  Yet there was a deep root of tenderness in their marriage and over time, she came both to understand his awkwardness and to respect his righteousness. In turn, he relied on her, far more than is often credited by history.”

Here are some additional great quotes from Winik:

“Lincoln had his blind spots; his first was misjudging the mood and the commitment of the South. His second was not initially understanding the dynamics of war that raise passions and harden sides.”

“It has often been said that Lincoln was not religious, but there seems to be little doubt that as the war progressed, he became deeply moved by faith. In watching Lincoln evolve, one leaves with the sense that he came to feel that he had somehow been placed on this earth, elected as president, in the eye of the terrible war, for God’s own designs.”

I loved this book.
To be honest, I savored every page and hated that it had to end.

I give it 5 stars out of a possible 5.

That’s book #19 for 2020.

33 more to go.

Leaders are readers.

If you want to be a better leader…be a reader.



Interested in purchasing this book?


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