Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Originally published as In the Lion’s Den

Winner of the San Diego Book Award for Best Historical Fiction

Director’s Mention, Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction

1861: The war that’s been brewing for a decade has exploded, pitting North against South. Fearing that England will support the Confederate cause, President Lincoln sends Charles Francis Adams, son of Joh...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published October 13th 2009)
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 Broken Promises, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Broken Promises

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 568)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
2.5 stars

Charles Francis Adams (son of John Quincy Adams) is sent to London by Lincoln as a diplomatic representative of the U.S. His son Henry is along for the trip and they're soon mixed up in the growing tensions as the U.S. splits in two - and England seems to side towards the south. There's also a side story involving Henry's old friend Baxter Sams and Englishwoman Julia Birch. Baxter's from the south, Julia's family thinks she too good for any American and Henry and Baxter's friendship is...more
I enjoyed Elizabeth Hoffman's characters in this novel. It is obvious that the author has a sure grasp on the history of this period. The specific details that are covered in this fictional version of events are compelling. I find the period of the civil war interesting and thought the premise of this book was compelling. Unfortunately the history itself didn't come to life for me.

Some of the dialog seemed less than authentic and the characters could have benefited from greater development, I th...more
The early years of the Civil War are brought to life in Broken Promises. Charles Francis Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, was sent by President Lincoln to England. Once there he assumed the role of head of the American legation. His primary duty was to assess the extent of England’s support of the Confederate cause. Warships and supplies were being sent past the Union’s blockades. Adams’ pivotal role in this assignment played a key part in avoiding a disastrous conclusion to the Civil War. Eliza...more
The perfect combination of historical characters and events with fictional characters and romance. It was intriguing, heart-wrenching at times and truly satisfying at the end. A great read.
Do you like your history accurate and light? Do you like wit dressed up in sentences that are elegant and clear? Then Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman’s In the Lion’s Den is the historical romance for you. The setting is the Civil War when English sentiment is wobbling precariously between supporting the Confederacy or the Union, and it is the job of Charles Francis Adams of the famed Adams family, with the help of his young son, Henry, to make sure the Court of St. James does not come down on the Southe...more
Broken Promises was a wonderful story. From the first page until the last line, I didn't want to put the book down. Elizabeth Hoffman is brilliant and her style of writing grabs the reader and won't let go. Baxter and Julia are star crossed lovers that you can't help but fall in love with. The book was amazing, a must read.
Leon Nower
If you like a fast-moving story where every line feeds the next and points it towards an inevitable yet surprising ending, read this book. If you enjoy a bosom-heaving historical romance, read this book. And if you’re mainly a history buff, read this book. In “In the Lion’s Den,” Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman braids these three genres so skillfully than there is no way to tell where one ends and another begins. One could say that the Civil War serves as the background of the novel, yet with equal just...more

It's March 1861, and Charles Francis Adams is sent on a mission to London by a less-than-confident President Lincoln. Adams, conscious of his family's stature and historical responsibilities (his father and grandfather both served as President) must convince the English not to recognize the Confederacy or to supply warships to the South.

Meanwhile, Adams' son Henry accompanies his father and reunites with his Southerner friend Baxter Sams, who is attending the Royal College of Surgeons. When Hen

Heather Sellers
As another reviewer said previously, I would have given this book 3.5 stars if it were possible.

I received this book through a First Reads contest and I am so glad that I did! I love historical fiction, but generally stay in the Tudor England time period. This book has thoroughly sparked an interest in Civil War era fiction.

I enjoyed the inside view of what it must have been like to be an American in England during this time. I found myself surprised at the complete disdain that most of the En...more
Charles Francis Adams, son and grandson of Presidents, is the American Minister to Great Britain during the Civil War. Together with his son Henry, he is trying to keep the U.S. and Britain from going to war with one another while simultaneously trying to prevent the British government from recognizing the Confederacy. Hoffman introduces us to all of the political shenanigans going on in London as Victoria goes into mourning for her beloved prince, Prime Minister Palmerston tries to encourage th...more
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman's In the Lion's Den has been re-issued with a new title and a new cover which better highlights the romantic sub plot that anchors the story. The newly christened Broken Promises does offer a new take on the civil war by setting most of it in England and through the perspective of Charles Adams (grandson of John and son of John Quincy). This perspective allows Hoffman to concentrate on the international politics of the period and the feat accomplished in keeping England o...more
This was a very different sort of read for me. I hadn't yet read anything about the American Civil War and this book certainly took on an interesting angle of this historic event. The bulk of the novel takes place in England, so as a reader we have the interesting perspective of seeing what the British reaction was to the Civil War. I had honestly never really considered the British impact and reaction to this event. For those of you that are like me and did not know about this – they were helpi...more
This is a very interesting Civil War novel, which, unlike most other novels of the genre which tend to focus on the battlefronts, sheds light on the diplomatic side of the war, vis-a-vis Great Britain and the U.S.

The author fleshes out with the skill of a Seurat pointillist, the real-life characters Charles Francis Adams, Sr. (son of John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the U.S., and grandson of one of the nation's Founding Fathers, John Adams), whom Lincoln appointed shortly before war brok...more
Lydia M
It’s 1861 and civil war has come to the United States, pitting the North against the South. Charles Adams is sent to England by President Lincoln to be the minister for the Union, along with his wife Abby Adams and son Henry. Henry’s old college friend Baxter Sam attends the Royal College of Surgeons to become skilled in the trade of a physician and falls in love with London resident Julia Birch. While Charles and Henry politically battle those in England supplying the Confederacy, Baxter strugg...more
Christina Jones
As we gear up for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War this year, I am seeing a plethora of novels being offered through book clubs, discount bookstores, and the like. Now all we have to do is sort through them. Broken Promises tells the story of Great Britain's betrayal to the United States from the perspective of Charles Francis Adams, son of President John Quincy Adams, who was appointed to represent US interests in England during this period. Though the British spoke in favor of the emancip...more
Sarah Beth
I'd probably give this book I won as a first reads giveaway three and a half stars if I could. This novel is about Charles Francis Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, who is sent to serve as a diplomat in London during the Civil War. Charles Adams' son, who accompanies his father to London, meets up with his old UVA buddy Baxter Sams. The two are now on opposing sides of the war. Baxter, a physician in training, falls for the British Julia Birch, although their relationship is complicated by the wa...more
I really enjoy historical fiction, and I especially like romances set in regency or England time frame. This book is set during the civil war time frame but from the perspective of the Adams family in England. Although it was good to learn the background and efforts that the Adams family contributed to the war, I really enjoyed the back story of the ficticious characters of Julia & Baxter. I haven't read very many civil war book but I really enjoyed this one. It wasn't too much about the bat...more
I have a love hate relationship with historical fiction. I've read so many good biographies that it is hard for me to get past the made-up dialogue in these books. I enjoyed the story in that I was unfamiliar with the relations between England and the confederacy in during the civil war. After reading this, i want to go and read some of the underlying source material. The dialogue did not engage me however, and I'm not sure I needed a fake romance thrown into the mix of a generally gripping stor...more
Here is a historical fiction novel, war time yet, that actually uses non-fictional characters in excellent historical fiction context and without one iota of revisionist interpreting. Charles Adams, the minister from the USA to Great Britain, is real. As is his son Henry, his wife, Lord Russell, Dudley, and numerous other players that were pivotal in the mix. And the woman are completely of their time and speak for themselves. It's the Civil War years from Europe's "eyes". And the complex allian...more
This book was a very interesting look into the times of the Civil War & what was going on in other countries other than America at that time. It gave an interesting picture into the political decisions of President Lincoln & the story was sweet & unpredictable.
I recieved this book as a first reads give away!
I really love history!!! Some of my favorite books are historical fiction and I have not read any recently so I was really excited to win this one. The civil war is one of my personal interests. I really enjoyed the different look on things with this story. If you like history I would recommend this book.
Mar 16, 2011 Irwin marked it as to-read
I just won as a goodreads giveaway! waiting to read it. Thanks.
May 31, 2014 Kayse marked it as to-read
I wanted so badly to love this book. There are many reasons why.

1.) From Little Women to My Name Is Mary Sutter, I love books about the Civil War.
2.) Likewise, I love books that take place in 19th century England. I'm an Anglophile in an almost obsessive sense.
3.) It has the Adamses in it! I love John Adams and his progeny! So how could it NOT be good?

I'm not sure why, but I simply can't get into this novel. I'm about 90 pages into it, and I still feel like nothing much has happened yet. The his...more
I absolutely loved this book, a real page-turner of intrigue and love set during the Civil War. This isn't the Civil War as you've seen it before: this is the drawing rooms of London, the ships of blockade-runners, and a reluctant Confederate who has fallen in love with a noblewoman's daughter.

At the center of this story is the son of John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, who is sent by Lincoln to be Washington's official delegation to Great Britain. Adams and his family struggle to hold up...more
I'm a fan of historical fiction and this one is set during the US Civil War, except the majority of the story takes place in London, adding an unusual look at the war from the British perspective. The Adams' story is true but the romantic relationship detailed in the book is fiction. That said, both are woven together wonderfully making for a great read. If you're a fan of historical fiction you'll enjoy this book!
This book was interesting but by no means a page turner. I was fasinated by the sections that were about the history of American British relations during the Civil war and the politics involved in keeping England from allying with the Confederacy. However, the love story that was the back drop did not serve to help tell the story but detracted from it. The heroine was not believable nor was she historically realistic. An okay book but did not live up to the potential that was shown in moments of...more
Kathleen Brunnett
Although a few people said it started slow, I didn't feel that way.
I think you need to have a base knowledge of the Civil War to enjoy this book. With the book mainly taking place in England, the reader is connected to the war by reports only. I was fascinated by England's interpretation of our Civil War and how many hoped our country would implode from it.

If you are looking for a battlefield type of Civil War read, this is not for you. If you like the history aspect, then I recommend it.
This is a book I got for free through Goodreads First Reads. It's about the role England played in building warships for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and how Charles Francis Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, was Abraham Lincoln's ambassador to the Court of St. James in London. There was also a tale of romance mixed in. Broken Promises was a great book, and I would recommend it to any fan of historical fiction.
This book just didn't hold my attention. It is mostly history, which was very dry, with a little romance thrown in. I normally love historical fiction, but this book failed in my opinion- the author tried to do too much with this book and it ended up flat. Either stick with the history side of the story, or develop the romance more to fit in the romantic historical fiction genre.
An interesting insight into Charles Adams (John Quincy Adams' son) role during the Civil War. Obviously this was a fictional account but it had excerpts from letters he wrote during this time as well as letters his son wrote during this time to his brother. This made me want to track that collection of letters (they have been made into a book) down and read them.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 18 19 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Belly Dancer
  • The Rebellion of Jane Clarke
  • Band of Angels
  • Wolves Among Us
  • Lewis & Clark
  • Thorns of Eden
  • Noble Cause
  • The Bride Found (Civil War Brides, #2)
  • Deliverance from Evil
  • Finding Emilie
  • All the Queen's Players
  • Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization
  • Spy Lover, The: A Novel
  • Exit the Actress
  • A Scarlet Bride
  • Heartbroke Bay
  • Defender of the Realm (Defender of England, #1)
  • To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Author of: Broken Promises, A Novel of the Civil War (Random House 2011); Major Problems in American History (Houghton-Mifflin/Cengage 2011, 2006, 2002); All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s (Harvard 2000, 1998); and the Rich Neighbor Policy: Rockefeller and Kaiser in Brazil (Yale 1992).
More about Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman...
All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s Major Problems in American History, Volume II: Since 1865 Major Problems In American History, Volume 1: To 1877 American Umpire The American Pageant from 1865, Vol 2

Share This Book