Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Worst. President. Ever.
Quick synopsis: The story of the only ever impeachment of a sitting president, Andrew Johnson. Seriously, he sucked.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: By the end of Andrew Johnson’s term, both political parties hated him and wanted him to go away. This may also be the last time both political parties agreed on something.
Fun Fact for History Nerds: After barely missing being impeached (by one vote), Johnson was later voted back into the Senate. What the hell were you thinking, Tennessee!?
My Take: This book should have been boring. Basically, a bunch of politicians arguing about things and then having a show trial, right?
Well, Brenda Wineapple made me look stupid! This book is really good. Wineapple is first and foremost, a gifted writer. She knows how to put the words on the page without putting you to sleep. More importantly, she knows what facts to pull into her story without overwhelming the reader. Wineapple has to introduce a lot of characters and she does it almost seamlessly. She gives you a quick page or two primer on the subject and then inserts them into the story.
Wineapple does justice to the injustice that was Reconstruction. While we will never know what Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction was, I am fairly certain allowing newly freed African Americans to be murdered in the street was not his intention. Wineapple could easily have focused entirely on Johnson as a villain (and he is), but instead she lets his actions do the talking. You don’t need to do much when the sitting president does not react at all to widespread rape and murder.
I’d like to reiterate, Andrew Johnson sucked.
Verdict: Really great book. Read it.
If You Liked This Try:
- Tony Horwitz, Midnight Rising
- Timothy Egan, The Immortal Irishman
- Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals
- Charles Lane, Freedom’s Detective