The murder of President Abraham Lincoln, just days after the Union had triumphed in the Civil War, shocked and horrified people across America—it was, in its way, a nineteenth century 9/11. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination, and historian Martha Hodes has explored that traumatic event in an eloquent new book, MOURNING LINCOLN.
Hodes has combed through the private, unfiltered writings of Americans from both North and South to learn how they reacted to news of the assassination. Their responses both reflected how much Lincoln meant to his contemporaries and revealed the profound differences that the Civil War had left unresolved. Here’s my conversation with Martha Hodes about her work.
As a lover of history books, not to mention as a publisher of them, I've wished for a long time that there were more conversation to be found online about all the interesting work that historians are doing. There are certainly some lively websites and blogs, and a handful of excellent podcasts, but the avid history reader is underserved compared to the fiction lover or sports fan.
So I'm making a modest effort to expand what's available with this podcast, where I'll be talking to historians about their new titles, works in progress, and sometimes other topics. As I'm posting this on Independence Day, I could think of no better person to talk to than John Ferling, who has spent a long and productive scholarly career studying the American Revolution. He has just published a superb new book titled Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It--a sweeping, and stirring, history of coming of American independence.
Unlike many books on the Revolution, this one looks carefully at both the political struggle and the military one, and at how each of those influenced the other. Ferling also emphasizes--in a break from the last few decades of scholarship-- the economic factors that he believes drove the colonists toward a break from their mother country.
I hope you'll enjoy this talk as much as I did and that you'll check back for future interviews; you should soon be able to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes and other sites. I would welcome comments, positive or negative, about this interview, or suggestions about other authors you'd like to hear on the podcast. Thanks for listening.