Lincoln Discussion Symposium

Full Version: The Demon of Unrest
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Just saw where Erik Larson, author of such historical classics as Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts will be releasing a new book in April called The Demon of Unrest. It is a history of the five months between the election of Lincoln in 1860 and the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter. While there have obviously been numerous books on this topic before, Larson is one of the best historians in the business. Devil in the White City is one of the top five books I have ever read. Add to it forum member Joe Di Cola's picture book on the Chicago World's Fair (since Larson's publisher decided not to put pictures in the book), and you have a real winner. I am sure his new book will be just as good. Here is a link to more information.

I agree Rob, "...Larson is one of the best historians in the business." I've read all the books you mentioned and am now looking forward to his latest.
Thanks for the link!
Just finished The Demon of Unrest and want to share that it is really quite good (at 490 pages of text, a thorough read, but never a slog). I don’t think it was written for posters and readers of this board, but rather for a public not as familiar with the events which transpired between Lincoln’s first election and the bombardment and capitulation of Fort Sumter. This is deep-dive, long-quotation-transcribing micro-history at its best. There are countless flashes of enthralling narrative brilliance, with Larson’s descriptive powers as evocative as ever. Individual characters are set forth in strikingly colorful detail (for example, Buchanan appears far more hopelessly inept and indecisive—bordering on treasonably so—than I had realized, and Edmund Ruffin and Louis Wigfall appear as cartoonish self-aggrandizers). Larson does note in his Acknowledgments that on his editor’s advice he cut 40,000 words, and I would suggest that another 20,000 or so might additionally have been trimmed. (Did we really need to know all about James Henry Hammond's pedophilia, the details of Mary Chesnut’s flirtations, and precisely how many slaves each southerner owned?) But then, would you want to be the person to tell Erik Larson what to cut? My other quibble would be his fairly consistent (about half the time) reliance on secondary sources. That being said, this is an engrossing, vivid narrative that I would highly recommend, especially if one is not overly familiar with the events described.
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