Lincoln’s Greatest Journey:
Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency
March 24-April 8, 1865
By Noah Andre Trudeau
Air Date/Time December 3 12 noon (Central)
1st edition, With Signed Bookplate
Lincoln’s Greatest Journey represents an important addition to the Lincoln saga. The conventional wisdom that there’s nothing new to be learned about Lincoln is due for a major reset.
A vast and terrible civil war was winding down, leaving momentous questions for a war-weary president to address. A timely invitation from General U. S. Grant provided the impetus for an escape to City Point, Virginia, a journey from which Abraham Lincoln drew much more than he ever expected. Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24 – April 8, 1865, offers the first comprehensive account of a momentous time.
Lincoln traveled to City Point, Virginia, in late March 1865 to escape the constant interruptions in the nation’s capital that were carrying off a portion of his “vitality,” and to make his personal amends for having presided over the most destructive war in American history in order to save the nation. Lincoln returned to Washington sixteen days later with a renewed sense of purpose, urgency, and direction that would fundamentally shape his second term agenda.
Previous coverage of this unprecedented trip—his longest break from the White House since he had taken office—has been sketchy at best, and often based on seriously flawed sources. Lincoln’s Greatest Journey represents the most extensively researched and detailed story of these decisive sixteen days at City Point in a narrative laden with many heretofore unpublished accounts. The richly shaped prose, a hallmark of Trudeau’s pen, rewrites much of the heretofore misunderstood story of what really happened to Lincoln during this time.
A fresh, more complete picture of Lincoln emerges. This is Lincoln at a time of great personal and national change—the story of how he made peace with the past and became firmly future-focused, all set against a dramatically new narrative of what really happened during those last weeks of his life. It infuses the well-worn Lincoln narrative with fresh sources to fundamentally change an often-told story in ways large and small.
Rather than treat Lincoln as a dead man walking when he returns to Washington, Trudeau paints him as he surely was—a changed man profoundly influenced by all that he experienced while at City Point.