April 12, 1861 the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, igniting the Civil War that divided the United States for four years. To commemorate this momentous anniversary, listen to history come alive with a history audiobook. For more suggestions for adults and teens, see our Random House Audio list here.
LINCOLN: A Photobiography
by Russell Freedman
read by Robert Petkoff
Abraham Lincoln stood out in a crowd as much for his wit and rollicking humor as for his height. Here is a warm, appealing biography of our Civil War president. Russell Freedman begins with a lively account of Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood, his career as a country lawyer, and his courtship and marriage to Mary Todd. Then the author focuses on the presidential years (1861 to 1865), skillfully explaining the many complex issues Lincoln grappled with as he led a deeply divided nation through the Civil War. The audiobook’s final chapter is a moving account of that tragic evening in Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Lincoln: A Photobiography concludes with an interview with the Author.
by Walter Dean Myers
read by a full cast
During a long, hot July in 1863, the worst race riots the United States has ever seen erupt in New York City. Earlier that year, desperate for more Union soldiers, President Abraham Lincoln instituted a draft–a draft that would allow the wealthy to escape serving in the army by paying a $300 waiver, more than a year’s income for the recent immigrant Irish. And on July 11, as the first drawing takes place in Lower Manhattan, the city of New York explodes in rage and fire. Stores are looted, buildings set on fire, and black Americans are attacked, beaten, and murdered. The police cannot hold out against the rioters, and finally, battle-hardened soldiers are ordered back from the fields of Gettysburg to put down the insurrection, which they do–brutally.
Fifteen-year-old Claire, the beloved daughter of a black father and Irish mother, finds herself torn between the two warring sides. Faced with the breakdown of the city–the home–she has loved, Claire must discover the strength and resilience to address the new world in which she finds herself, and to begin the hard journey of remaking herself and her identity.
ELIJAH OF BUXTON
by Christopher Paul Curtis
read by Mirron Willis
Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit. He’s best known in his hometown as the boy who made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass. But things change when a former slave steals money from Elijah’s friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief, and he discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled–a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home.
THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF HOMER P. FIGG
by Rodman Philbrick
read by William Dufris
Although he is underage, Homer P. Figg’s beloved older brother, Harold, is illegally sold into the Union Army by their ruthless guardian. Now Homer must run away from Pine Swamp, Maine, and his wretched home to find his brother and save him from the war, before it’s too late.
In a story filled with adventure, humor, and danger, award-winning novelist Rodman Philbrick tells of the turbulent, passionate times–from rural Maine to the Battle of Gettysburg–in the Civil War. Here is historical fiction at its most engaging, portraying the 1860s through the observant eyes of a backwoods boy who is both courageous and funny–and always willing to stretch the truth to his own advantage. A master of plot twists and vivid characters, Philbrick sweeps readers into the unpredictable events–both colorful and tragic–of this powerful turning point in American history.
by Louisa May Alcott
read by Kate Reading
Little Women is one of the best loved books of all time. Lovely Meg, talented Jo, frail Beth, spoiled Amy: these are hard lessons of poverty and of growing up in New England during the Civil War. Through their dreams, plays, pranks, letters, illnesses, and courtships, women of all ages have become a part of this remarkable family and have felt the deep sadness when Meg leaves the circle of sisters to be married at the end of Part I. Part II, chronicles Meg’s joys and mishaps as a young wife and mother, Jo’s struggle to become a writer, Beth’s tragedy, and Amy’s artistic pursuits and unexpected romance. Based on Louise May Alcott’s childhood, this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers.