“A brilliant account… Conroy vividly captures the hope, weariness, despair and anger of the moment and the complexity of feelings on both sides… [and] lays out this tragic and fascinating story in a style that is witty, acerbic and ironic. His characters stand out as strikingly distinctive individuals.”—Kirkus, starred review
“Conroy is a terrific writer who tells the story of one of the war’s least known episodes, the Hampton Roads Peace Conference. But it is the way he describes the people around Lincoln, their interaction with him and each other that makes this such a good read. Great anecdotes—if you’re like me you’ll find yourself pausing every few pages and saying, ‘I never knew that’—my favorite kind of book!”—Bob Schieffer, CBS News
Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, is proud to announce the release of OUR ONE COMMON COUNTRY, by James B. Conroy (January 7, 2014, 978-0-7627-7807-2; $27.95 hardcover).
Shortly after breakfast on an unseasonably warm day in the winter of 1865, Abraham Lincoln slipped out of the White House alone and into a waiting carriage. None of his staff and only one of his Cabinet members had been told where he was going: to meet face-to-face with representatives of the Confederacy on a riverboat in Virginia. Never before had a sitting U.S. President engaged in peace talks with the enemy in the midst of a shooting war, and never has it happened since.
The extraordinary first week of February 1865 would change the course of American history: If negotiations proved successful, thousands of lives would be saved and the southern states would rejoin the Union by consent instead of surrender, avoiding a century of bitterness.
OUR ONE COMMON COUNTRY is the first book devoted to this pivotal moment in American history. Meticulously researched, it taps a wealth of primary sources (including letters, journals, memoirs and newspaper reports) that have never before been assembled.
With a prologue drawn from vivid accounts of the suffering on Grant’s siege line and the jubilation that greeted the Rebel peacemakers when they crossed it, the book opens with the players’ friendships before the war and recounts the fascinating origins of their meeting at Hampton Roads, the participants’ attempts to stop the killing, Grant’s surprising schemes to abet them, and the tragic consequences of their failure.
Fascination with Lincoln and the Civil War continues unabated, evidenced by the success of last year’s movie Lincoln (which took artistic liberties with the peace conference and omitted its most intriguing events and details, as readers of this book will learn).
Fans of popular nonfiction will enjoy the absorbing voice, the novelistic style, and the character-driven story of OUR ONE COMMON COUNTRY. For Civil War devotees, admirers of Lincoln, and lovers of American history, the only comprehensive treatment of the Hampton Roads Peace Conference ever written will close a gap that no other book has filled – and perhaps reignite some historical controversies regarding just how much Lincoln was willing to wager on peace.
Author James B. Conroy practices law in Boston. He previously served as a Senate and House press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, D.C., as well as chief of staff for a New York City congressman. Under his principals’ bylines, his work was published in the opinion section of The New York Times, National Journal, and Congressional Quarterly. He lives in Hingham, Massachusetts and on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit him at jamesbconroy.com.