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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  26 reviews
From the war-room of the White House to Washington's drawing rooms, from the bloody battlefields of Shiloh and Antietam to the battleships Monitor and Merrimack, the drama, the passions and the characters of the Civil War leap to life in a monumental bestseller from one of today's Washington insiders, William Safire. HC: Doubleday.
Paperback, 1437 pages
Published September 28th 1988 by Avon Books (first published 1987)
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The Killer Angels by Michael ShaaraGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBattle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPhersonThe Civil War by Shelby FooteCold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Best Civil War Books
104th out of 554 books — 618 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienWar and Peace by Leo TolstoyThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasLes Misérables by Victor HugoGone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Over a 1000 Pages
63rd out of 116 books — 132 voters

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Community Reviews

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Mar 12, 2010 Armen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Civil War buffs or historical novel buffs
I have read over 100 books about the Civil War and its characters - this is one of the best. I am not a big fan of William Safire - in fact, I liked nothing else he ever wrote - and as for his politics, well, let's just say that we rarely saw eye to eye. But this book is a miracle - a stirring but fully documented account of the first two tears of the war.

This is one of the best historical novels ever written - and I have read hundreds of them, from Gore Vidal to Mary Renault. A fascinating feat
This is one of the best doorstopper HF books I've ever read. If you like getting into a nitty gritty of politics, and people whose lives are dominated by them, this book has it all.

The events take place over the course of 2 short years of the war, and the tapestry Safire weaves of Washington DC in that pivotal period between Lincoln's inauguration and the Emancipation is simply amazing. Far from being impersonal or ponderous, many of the figures are very affectingly human, and their absorption i
I read this years ago, when it first came out. I found it a compelling tale of the time and actions leading up to the Emancipation Proclamation: a period about which I knew little. What was particularly fascinating was Safire's 'double-book': for each chapter of fiction, he wrote a corresponding chapter giving the historical grounding upon which he wrote. So the reader meets characters (like Matthew Brady and Mary Surratt) in a fictional construct, then find out how Safire created those characte ...more
Hmm, what to say on this book? I think large parts of it should be read by high school American history students. I think it provides insight into the Civil War, a conflict that continues to shape the U.S. today and our place in the world, that I have yet to find elsewhere. Most importantly, it brings another dimension into the Lincoln narrative, a man whose legacy exists more in myth than in reality.

The book's title signals the incredible scope of the novel. This is not a book about the Civil
Dec 01, 2007 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
This book is enormous, and so detailed as to be over 1000 pages and only cover the Civil War from its start through the Battle of Antietam. I needed two bookmarks; one for the text and the other for the index, which is comprehensive and informative.
Meticulously researched and dramatized, this is the missing link for anyone who would like to commemorate 150 years since the end of the Civil War. Do you recognize the names Anna Ella Carroll, John C. Breckinridge, Matthew Brady, or John Hay? Perhaps you should. These and others are people who shaped the times of the Civil War era, with their intelligence and fortitude. This novel lends view to the complex political times, as opposed to focusing mainly on military strategy or those left behind ...more
If I, with my current beliefs, had lived then, I wouldn't have liked Lincoln. He stripped Americans of their freedoms in pursuit of his single-minded goal of forcing the South the remain in the Union. Disenters were jailed with no trial or accusal. One loyal soldier was forced out of the army, which was his life, in order to set an example, although the casual comment he had made to a friend was deserving of no punishment in and of itself. Nonetheless, Lincoln was on the right side, as far as th ...more
Thom Swennes
William Safire's Freedom gives the reader a shadowbox view of the first two years of theAmerican Civil War. Politics, policies and patriotic views of the civilian and military leaders are minutely researched and related in this interesting (if not somewhat dry) novel of America's greatest challenge. Safire relates the struggles of Abraham Lincoln in a country divided and a cabinet torn in its beliefs and individual aspirations. The book gives new insight to the struggle that could have been so e ...more
Mark Fox
The American 'War and Peace'. A sweeping cast of characters, with military struggle as its backdrop. Freedom is great novel based closely on historical fact that achieves a fine balance between character driven narrative and military history. The account is gripping from start to finish and when the book ends, with the battle of Gettysburg, you are left wishing Safire had written another covering the remaining half of the war. It will appeal, obviously, to those interested in the civil war but r ...more
Leigh Tuft
I love this book. It gives more insight into that period of time in our country. I just began it yesterday - 12/06/2012. Finished today - 12/13/12. Just couldn't put it down because I kept comparing then and now. It really presents an humbling experience.Everyone who complains about politics and life today should read this book, particularly if your ancestors were engaged in the War Between the States. Mine were part of the Confederacy, but I can see the relationship between North and South was ...more
It took me months to finish this book (look at the size!) but never has such a long grueling read been so enjoyable or satisfying. This is probably the best historical novel I've ever read about the Civil War era (not ready to say "ever" because... Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series). I would love to pick this up again (I normally don't re-read books - I have too many on the TBR already). It's THAT good. When I do decide to take this epic journey again, I'll write a more thorough review ...more
Pamela Mckinnon
My favorite book about Abraham Lincoln and his contemporaries, and I have read several. This book takes you into the personal lives and thinking of the players leading up to the civil war. I learned about many folks I had never heard of before, and came away with an appreciation for the players on both sides of the conflict. Long book, but well worth the time. I will read it again, and again.
Fast Primes
This is an outstanding novel of the American Civil War--some 1400 pages long (of which 200 pages are footnotes, explanations and bibliography). The focus of the book is the political and legal machinations of the war--not the military battles. My only caveat is that it ends with the signing of the emancipation proclamation. Still this is a 5 star work.
The longest book I've ever read. I didn't realize that it only covered the first TWO YEARS of the Civil War until I was almost halfway through. Very engaging, although it's a little disappointing that after finishing 1000 pages the South is still winning!
I can think of no better way to deeply familiarize oneself with the first two years of the war with one single volume. Political battles, military battles -- and Safire breathes life into such a vast array of characters.
Brad Harju
Great historical novel about the first 2 years of the civil war. Very interesting!
Frustrating..the promised second volume completing the Lincoln story never appeared. Though a novel, it could have used an index, at least of the images.
Quite possibly the most fascinating insight into the political mind of Lincoln ever written. Stunningly written.
Clay Davis
I learned about the Confederate spy ring in Washington D.C. and the trouble Mary Lincoln caused by her spending.
A historical novel which covers the first two years of Abraham
Lincoln's administration.
Nov 28, 2007 Mike marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
So big that it has always daunted me. Maybe one day I'll find the time.
A portrayal that might lead one to see Lincoln as too much like Bush.
This was an effort to read but definitely worth it
Jan 24, 2009 Alexis added it
Freedom by William Safire (1987)
1200 pages of mostly awesome.
Joe Martin
Nov 17, 2014 Joe Martin marked it as have-unread  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Freedom by William Safire (1987)
Priscilla Turner
Priscilla Turner marked it as to-read
Jul 25, 2015
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William Lewis Safire was an American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter.

He was perhaps best known as a long-time syndicated political columnist for the New York Times and a regular contributor to "On Language" in the New York Times Magazine, a column on popular etymology, new or unusual usages, and other language-related topics.
More about William Safire...
Scandalmonger Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History On Language How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar Full Disclosure

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