For anyone who has read Trudeau’s The Last Citadel: Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864-April 1865, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24 – April 8, 1865 covers familiar ground. Lincoln’s Greatest Journey differs from The Last Citadel in its focus; instead of focusing on the entirety of the Petersburg campaign, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey focuses on just the 16 days during which Lincoln stayed with Grant and the Army at City Point and his visits to Petersburg and Richmond. Trudeau tells the story not just of the visit itself, but how the visit affected what happened as Petersburg and Richmond fell and the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and how the visit affected Lincoln. He holds that the visit gave Lincoln a time to rest and that what he saw and experienced while with the Army modified his views and would have impacted his post-war policies toward reconstruction.
While Lincoln’s Greatest Journey gets into some of the battles around Petersburg and the pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia, it mostly looks at the interactions between Lincoln and Grant as well as other individuals and groups. Trudeau’s writing is vivid and engaging, once you get going you truly don’t want to put the book down. As in other books I’ve read by Trudeau, he really gets into the heads of who he’s writing about, giving you good insight into their personalities.
I found The Last Citadel to be a compelling and worthy read, thoroughly enjoying it from beginning to end. You may disagree with his conclusions but I think you’ll enjoy the journey he takes you on the make them.