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parsed(2024-04-30) - pubdate: 04/24
pub date: 1714453200
today: 1721192400, pubdate > today = false

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The Demon of Unrest

A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War

April 30, 2024 | Hardcover
ISBN: 9780385348744
Reader Reward Price: $43.20 info
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o The author of The Splendid and the Vile brings to life the pivotal five months between the election of Abraham Lincoln and the start of the Civil War in this "riveting reexamination of a nation in tumult" (Los Angeles Times).

"A feast of historical insight and narrative verve . . . This is Erik Larson at his best, enlivening even a thrice-told tale into an irresistible thriller."--The Wall Street Journal

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the fluky victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds; Southern extremists were moving ever closer to destroying the Union, with one state after another seceding and Lincoln powerless to stop them. Slavery fueled the conflict, but somehow the passions of North and South came to focus on a lonely federal fortress in Charleston Harbor: Fort Sumter.

Master storyteller Erik Larson offers a gripping account of the chaotic months between Lincoln's election and the Confederacy's shelling of Sumter--a period marked by tragic errors and miscommunications, enflamed egos and craven ambitions, personal tragedies and betrayals. Lincoln himself wrote that the trials of these five months were "so great that, could I have anticipated them, I would not have believed it possible to survive them."

At the heart of this suspense-filled narrative are Major Robert Anderson, Sumter's commander and a former slave owner sympathetic to the South but loyal to the Union; Edmund Ruffin, a vain and bloodthirsty radical who stirs secessionist ardor at every opportunity; and Mary Boykin Chesnut, wife of a prominent planter, conflicted over both marriage and slavery and seeing parallels between them. In the middle of it all is the overwhelmed Lincoln, battling with his duplicitous secretary of state, William Seward, as he tries desperately to avert a war that he fears is inevitable--one that will eventually kill 750,000 Americans.

Drawing on diaries, secret communiques, slave ledgers, and plantation records, Larson gives us a political horror story that captures the forces that led America to the brink--a dark reminder that we often don't see a cataclysm coming until it's too late.

About this Author

Erik Larson is the author of six previous national bestsellers--The Splendid and the Vile, Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm--which have collectively sold more than ten million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.

ISBN: 9780385348744
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 592
Publisher: Crown
Published: 2024-04-30


"Larson, one of today's pre-eminent nonfiction storytellers, trawls a variety of archives to explore the historically momentous months between Abraham Lincoln's election and the Battle of Fort Sumter."--The New York Times

"Perhaps no other historian has ever rendered the struggle for Sumter in such authoritative detail as Larson does here. . . . Few historians, too, have done a better job of untangling the web of intrigues and counter-intrigues that helped provoke the eventual attack and surrender."--The Washington Post

"A feast of historical insight and narrative verve . . . Larson's great gift is his uncanny ability to spin a chronological story whose ending we already know--secession, rebellion, victory, emancipation and assassination--yet keep the narrative as crisp and suspenseful as an Anthony Horowitz suspense novel. . . . This is Erik Larson at his best, enlivening even a thrice-told tale into an irresistible thriller."--The Wall Street Journal

"The immediacy of the story in The Demon of Unrest--as well as on-the-ground reports from inside South Carolina's Fort Sumter, an early Union bulwark--lend the book vigor."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"[Larson] brings a welcome novelist's sensibility to his writing. He has an eye for telling details, quick and potent character descriptions and a relentless narrative momentum."--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A thoughtful account that also offers a sobering reminder of how humans often don't see a catastrophe coming until it's too late."--The Independent

"So many volumes have been written about the origins of the American Civil War that one might heave a sigh at the thought of yet another, but Larson has found a genuinely original way of telling the story--and storytelling, on the basis of serious research, is what he does well."--The Telegraph

"Engagingly written and fraught with tension . . . The Demon of Unrest will add to Larson's luster as one of the great historical-nonfiction writers of our time. . . . [A] literary masterwork."--National Review

"Erik Larson's latest book brings new life to an old war. The Demon of Unrest, [his] vivid depiction of the lead-up to the Civil War, is a masterclass in reportage and storytelling."--Garden and Gun

"An all-too-prescient tale of tension and tragedy, clashing egos, miscommunication, power, and betrayal."--People

"Even diehard Civil War aficionados will learn from [The Demon of Unrest]. . . . A riveting reexamination of a nation in tumult."--Los Angeles Times

"Twisty and cinematic . . . A mesmerizing and disconcerting look at an era when consensus dissolved into deadly polarization."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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