Brenda Wineapple

Cindy Seip

Brenda Wineapple is the author of several books including Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877, named a best book of 2013 by The New York Times. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians and also regularly contributes to major publications such as the New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and The Nation. With profound insights and making use of extensive research, in The Impeachers (Random House) Brenda Wineapple evokes a pivotal period in American history, when the country was rocked by the first-ever impeachment of a sitting American president. Vice-President Andrew Johnson became “the Accidental President” when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Congress was divided over how the Union should be reunited, including when and whether black men should be given the vote. Many white Southerners hoped to restore a pre–Civil War society, if without slavery, and Johnson seemed to share their goals. With the unchecked power of executive orders, Johnson ignored Congress, pardoned rebel leaders, promoted white supremacy, opposed civil rights, and called Reconstruction unnecessary. It fell to Congress and complicated visionaries like Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and Ulysses S. Grant, to stop the American president who acted like a king. Their goal was to make the Union free, fair, and whole. The New York Times’s review noted that “The relevance of this riveting and absorbing book is clear enough . . . literary and incisive . . . vivid and perceptive.”