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"Lincoln's Greatest Journey" by Noah Andre Trudeau - Printable Version

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"Lincoln's Greatest Journey" by Noah Andre Trudeau - Angela - 09-15-2016 12:36 PM

This examination of Lincoln's trip to City Point, VA in the spring of 1865 is such a long overdue book!
I even enjoyed the introduction (I usually find them somewhat tiring and hardly ever finish) in which the author argues the case for writing about this topic.

Not only are there so many scraps of information spread in so many different places that it is difficult to paint a full picture without bringing them together, but Mr. Trudeau also argues that this 16 day venture of President Lincoln is – in many descriptions – overshadowed by his assassination which happened only days after his return to Washington.

He intensely focuses on a different viewpoint throughout the day-by-day narrative that looks certainly not for symbols of impending doom but rather the important insights Lincoln collected on the front in order to round his plans for reconstruction and how to best serve the men who won this war for him.

The narrative is straight forward and a very enjoyable read.
Any Lincoln insider who might miss a popular anecdote here or there is in for a treat when the author discusses his reasons for composing the chapters as he did in the appendix.
While there are many footnotes throughout the book, the true insight to the author’s extensive research can be found here and – once again – it is organized on a day-by-day narrative.
I thought this a brilliant idea to add more information to the sources he used.

The book is packed with little anecdotes I heard for the first time.
For example – the fact that the NY Herald enjoyed Lincoln’s dispatches from the front so much that it’s editors mock offered him a job at their publication. I mentioned this here on another thread.

Another was the fact that Lincoln insisted on riding one of Grant’s horses – a pony, really – only because it was called Jeff Davis.
Even for this little incident Mr. Trudeau offers various sources.

These little yarns are peppered throughout the book and make a truly insightful study an enjoyable and fun read at the same time.

I have spoken to the author and learned that he will be one of the ALA speakers next February in Springfield as well as give a talk on “Virtual Book Signings” from the ALincoln-Book-Shop in Chicago in the first week of December.

RE: "Lincoln's Greatest Journey" by Noah Andre Trudeau - RJNorton - 09-15-2016 04:07 PM

Angela, I will be curious what the author has to say about the role of William H. Crook. Crook discusses the trip to City Point in his book (1907), and I've wondered if he did some embellishing. For example, Crook writes, "We had not gone far when the blinds of a second story window of a house on our left were partly opened, and a man dressed in gray pointed something that looked like a gun directly at the President. I dropped Tad's hand and stepped in front of Mr. Lincoln. I was sure he meant to shoot."

However, nothing came of this.

In Ed Steers' assassination encyclopedia the author notes, "Historian William Hanchett has shown that these (i.e. Crook's) recollections and other reminisces Crook writes about fall into the myth category, related at a time late in Crook's life when there was no one left alive to refute them.....Because of this Crook cannot be considered a trustworthy source on the events surrounding Lincoln's assassination."

RE: "Lincoln's Greatest Journey" by Noah Andre Trudeau - Gene C - 09-15-2016 04:17 PM

In the case you stated, it would not surprise me if that really happened.
Now if he had said the guy looked like he was in his late 20's with dark curly hair and a mustache, and was wearing what looked like a train conductors hat..... Big Grin

RE: "Lincoln's Greatest Journey" by Noah Andre Trudeau - Angela - 09-16-2016 12:57 AM

Roger, interesting that you mention this!

Here is what the author thought:
"Anyone familiar with the events of Lincoln’s last weeks will notice that I have not included William H. Crook among the party traveling with the President in March 1865. The evidence I have seen convinces me that he was not at City Point until April 6. I believe that he subsequently drew from his brief time there with the President and conversations with several individuals who had been present throughout to craft a self-promoting story that a ghost-writer turned into a memoir for a Washington Post feature piece in 1895. (It went on to become several magazine articles and chapters in a larger autobiography, all ghost-written. Excerpts were often serialized in turn-of-the-century newspapers.)"

RE: "Lincoln's Greatest Journey" by Noah Andre Trudeau - Eva Elisabeth - 09-16-2016 07:47 AM

Thanks much for the review, Angela - sounds like a book I'd like to read!

RE: "Lincoln's Greatest Journey" by Noah Andre Trudeau - Gene C - 09-16-2016 04:22 PM

Thanks Angela, I liked the Crook stories. If I recall, he didn't serve very long in the Lincoln White House before the assassination. I found his book ( I think his daughter wrote most of it) very interesting.

Here is an article (haven't read it yet because I just found it) from Sept 1907 Harpers Magazine, "Lincoln's Last Day's". It looks like this was also written (compiled) by his daughter. It's probably a section from his book.

We've discussed the book here