What would have happened if Abraham Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated? Stephen L. Carter offers a startling legal thriller

 

Come and hear Stephen L. Carter read from his new novel at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 19 at R. J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road, in Madison. The event is free, but reservations are required. Call (203) 245-3959.

 

What if the bullet fired by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, had missed? Might one of our greatest presidents have faced an impeachment trial for overstepping his constitutional authority both during and after the Civil War?

Yale Law School professor and best-selling author Stephen L. Carter imagines what might have happened, in his latest novel, The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln.

The book tells the story of 21-year-old Abigail Canner, a young black woman who has a degree from Oberlin, a letter of employment from the law firm that has undertaken Lincoln’s defense, and the iron-strong conviction, learned from her late mother, that “whatever limitations society might place on ordinary negroes, they would never apply to her.” And so Abigail embarks on a life that defies the norms of every stratum of Washington society: working side by side with a white clerk, meeting the great and powerful of the nation, including the president himself.  But when Lincoln’s lead counsel is found brutally murdered on the eve of the trial, Abigail is plunged into a treacherous web of intrigue and conspiracy reaching the highest levels of the divided government.

This book brings together a courtroom drama, political suspense, and science fiction to capture the emotional tenor of post–Civil War America.

Some early reviews:

“With an encyclopedic command of period detail . . . Carter has created an entertaining story rooted in the legal, political and racial conflicts of 19th-century America. . . . Carter’s delight in all this material is infectious. He’s a fantastic legal dramatist, and there’s the constant pleasure of seeing his creation of Washington City in 1867, alive with sounds and smells. . . . History buffs can test their mettle by trying to unwind Carter’s entangling of fact and fiction, but anyone should enjoy this rich political thriller that dares to imagine how events might have ricocheted in a different direction after the Civil War.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“[T]he best legal thriller so far this year . . . I’ve liked Carter’s four previous forays into fiction. This one, I loved.”
—Patrik Henry Bass, Essence Magazine

“Washington readers will get a kick out of comparing Carter’s vivid portrait of late-19th-century DC with the city they know today. . . . But the best thing about sitting down with this rich, often thrilling novel is watching its alternative history unfold.”
—John Wilwol, The Washingtonian
 
“[T]he streets come alive in his vision of Washington . . . Carter’s tale comes to a conclusion as thrilling and untidy as the actual events that unfolded during the turbulent postwar years.”
—Andrew Dunn, Bloomberg.com

“A smart and engaging what-if that has the virtue of being plausible . . . Abigail makes for a grandly entertaining sleuth.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This novel has all the juicy stew of post–Civil War Washington, with the complexities of race, class, and sex mixed in. Carter draws on historical documents and a vivid imagination to render a fascinating mix of murder mystery, political thriller, and courtroom drama . . . Imaginatively conceived.”
—Vanessa Bush, Booklist(starred)

About the Author

Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of eight books of nonfiction, writes a column for Bloomberg View, and is a frequent contributor to The Daily Beast and Newsweek. The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln is his fifth novel.

His previous novels include The Emperor of Ocean Park, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for eleven weeks in 2002.

 

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