THE TRIAL OF ANDREW JOHNSON by Noel B. Gerson

THE TRIAL OF ANDREW JOHNSON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Highschool textbook prose and blandly, benefit-of-the-doubt portraiture are the hallmarks of this superficial mix of biography (Senator Andy Johnson from Tennessee to White House and back again) and Reconstruction-era impeachment politics. As in Gene Smith's High Crimes and Misdemeanors, the Senate trial of a president is only the final episode in a chronology that has to begin before the Civil War, but, unlike Smith, Gerson leaves the events unshaped, making nothing of the drama or the personalities (Thad Stevens, Stanton, Grant, Sumner) that fired the Northern radicals' determination to unseat ""His Accidency"" and get on with the harshest possible Reconstruction measures. Johnson's incoherent 1864 inauguration speech is minimized, his Lincolnian attitude toward the South is maximized (and not viewed here as a bewildering turn-around), and his no-compromise, politically naive integrity emerges as the determining factor in his persecution by Congress. Some quoted speeches, more on Andy's final days than Smith offered, but colorless, dead-people history through and through.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1977
Publisher: Nelson