The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War (Hardcover)

The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War By Erik Larson Cover Image

The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War (Hardcover)


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“Larson vividly depicts Fort Sumter’s untenable position, the inpetitude of the Buchanan administration, and the impossibility of a remedy from Lincoln, exposing Southern planters who linked slavery, secession, and war in a corrupted Code of Honor.”
— Mike Hare, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Splendid and the Vile brings to life the pivotal five months between the election of Abraham Lincoln and the start of the Civil War—a simmering crisis that finally tore a deeply divided nation in two.

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Time, Los Angeles Times, Men’s Health, New York Post, Lit Hub, Book Riot

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the fluky victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds; Southern extremists were moving ever closer to destroying the Union, with one state after another seceding and Lincoln powerless to stop them. Slavery fueled the conflict, but somehow the passions of North and South came to focus on a lonely federal fortress in Charleston Harbor: Fort Sumter.

Master storyteller Erik Larson offers a gripping account of the chaotic months between Lincoln’s election and the Confederacy’s shelling of Sumter—a period marked by tragic errors and miscommunications, enflamed egos and craven ambitions, personal tragedies and betrayals. Lincoln himself wrote that the trials of these five months were “so great that, could I have anticipated them, I would not have believed it possible to survive them.”

At the heart of this suspense-filled narrative are Major Robert Anderson, Sumter’s commander and a former slave owner sympathetic to the South but loyal to the Union; Edmund Ruffin, a vain and bloodthirsty radical who stirs secessionist ardor at every opportunity; and Mary Boykin Chesnut, wife of a prominent planter, conflicted over both marriage and slavery and seeing parallels between them. In the middle of it all is the overwhelmed Lincoln, battling with his duplicitous secretary of state, William Seward, as he tries desperately to avert a war that he fears is inevitable—one that will eventually kill 750,000 Americans.

Drawing on diaries, secret communiques, slave ledgers, and plantation records, Larson gives us a political horror story that captures the forces that led America to the brink—a dark reminder that we often don’t see a cataclysm coming until it’s too late.
Erik Larson is the author of six previous national bestsellers—The Splendid and the Vile, Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm—which have collectively sold more than ten million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.
Product Details ISBN: 9780385348744
ISBN-10: 0385348746
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: April 30th, 2024
Pages: 592
Language: English
Praise for The Demon of Unrest

“Larson, one of today’s pre-eminent nonfiction storytellers, trawls a variety of archives to explore the historically momentous months between Abraham Lincoln’s election and the Battle of Fort Sumter—the end of which, in 1861, began the Civil War.”—The New York Times

“Even diehard Civil War aficionados will learn from Larson’s look at the six months between Lincoln’s 1860 election and the surrender of Union troops under Maj. Robert Anderson at Charleston’s Ft. Sumter. . . . A riveting reexamination of a nation in tumult.—Los Angeles Times

“Twisty and cinematic . . . A mesmerizing and disconcerting look at an era when consensus dissolved into deadly polarization.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Larson deftly blends swift and vivid writing with in-depth research in primary sources, bringing alive people who are now less known than Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis but key to shaping events. . . . Fascinating details, fresh perspectives, and lively writing make this a standout view of the antebellum and Civil War eras.”Booklist (starred review)

“An intriguing tale from the beginning of the Civil War. In his latest appealing historical excavation . . . Larson includes interesting portraits of obscure peripheral figures that enrich the narrative. . . . A welcome addition to any Civil War buff’s library.”—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Splendid and the Vile

“Fresh, fast and deeply moving.”—Candice Millard, The New York Times Book Review

“An enthralling page-turner.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“[An] affecting and affectionate chronicle of the Churchill family during the Blitz.”—The Boston Globe

“A damn good story. There are narrative arcs, heroes, villains, and suspense aplenty.”Rolling Stone