Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Freedom: A Novel of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War” as Want to Read:
Freedom: A Novel of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Freedom: A Novel of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  536 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Hardcover, 1125 pages
Published July 28th 1987 by Doubleday (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Freedom, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Freedom

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 12, 2010 Armen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 30, 2015 Meghan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 03, 2008 Diane rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 01, 2007 Graceann rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Jul 22, 2014 Tabitha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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
May 10, 2013 Mark Fox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 13, 2012 Leigh Tuft rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2015 Pamela Mckinnon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-book-ever
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.
Dec 04, 2015 kerrycat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I took my sweet time with this 974 page bad boy, which now rivals my affection for the Shaaras as far as ACW fiction goes. With plenty of sources to back up this fictional account, which treats from mid-1861 to January 1, 1863, this is compelling drama that speaks to a reality that none of us read in our history books at school or beyond. An absolute masterpiece.
Fast Primes
Jan 11, 2011 Fast Primes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 17, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 13, 2008 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Apr 23, 2016 Elisse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this book- read it prior to a Civil War history road trip and Paddlewheel Cruise down the Mississippi, and very glad I did! Gave me a real "picture" of many of the "players" of the time.
Jul 02, 2009 Don rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly the most fascinating insight into the political mind of Lincoln ever written. Stunningly written.
Sep 20, 2015 Jerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1,000 + pages !!!

In depth 2 years of Lincoln, Congress, the Cabinet, Generals, politics, newspaper coverage and the Civil War.
Clay Davis
Jan 21, 2013 Clay Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned about the Confederate spy ring in Washington D.C. and the trouble Mary Lincoln caused by her spending.
Aug 21, 2009 Zeph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Vicky L. Demastus
Vicky L. Demastus rated it it was amazing
Apr 19, 2015
Sean rated it it was amazing
Jul 14, 2012
Sharon rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2016
Pamkf rated it really liked it
May 13, 2012
Gerald rated it it was amazing
Sep 20, 2011
John rated it it was amazing
Jan 25, 2010
Jesse Ennis
Jesse Ennis rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2013
Diana rated it really liked it
Dec 05, 2014
James Carr
James Carr rated it it was ok
Sep 12, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
  • Lincoln and His Admirals
  • Mr. Lincoln's Army
  • Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865
  • Dream West
  • Lincoln and His Generals
  • The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows
  • An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government
  • The Crater
  • House Divided
  • Years of Renewal
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Lee The Last Years
  • Lincoln  President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter, 1860-1861
  • Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon
  • Roosevelt's Centurions: FDR & the Commanders He Led to Victory in World War II
  • Cain at Gettysburg
  • Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, 1882-1940
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...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »