by She Treads Softly: The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War by Erik Larson is a highly recommended in-depth look at the months between Lincoln’s November 1860 election and the surrender of Fort Sumter which lead up to the Civil War.

Larson brings to bear his penchant for presenting extensive historical research in a vivid, compelling manner in the telling the story of a deeply divided nation and the events leading up to the start of the Civil War. “At the heart of this suspense-filled narrative are Major Robert Anderson, Sumter’s commander and a former slave owner sympathetic to the South but loyal to the Union; Edmund Ruffin, a vain and bloodthirsty radical who stirs secessionist ardor at every opportunity; and Mary Boykin Chesnut, wife of a prominent planter, conflicted over both marriage and slavery and seeing parallels between them. In the middle of it all is the overwhelmed Lincoln, battling with his duplicitous secretary of state, William Seward, as he tries desperately to avert a war that he fears is inevitable—one that will eventually kill 750,000 Americans.”

For those who enjoy any and all historical accounts surrounding the Civil War, The Demon of Unrest will be a welcomed addition to your library. This has been hailed as one of the most anticipated books of the year. Personally, ever since I read Isaac’s Storm, still a favorite, reading any new Eric Larson book is a necessity. The presentation was compelling and the research is extensive, but I’ll sheepishly admit I wanted the narrative to move along just a little bit faster. However, I know several Civil War buffs who will revel in the details.

In the opening Larson does write, “I was well into my research on the saga of Fort Sumter and the advent of the American Civil War when the events of January 6, 2021, took place.” Rather than be so specific and pinning the current ideological divisions on one day, it might have behooved him to simply say that turmoil and division between Americans is present again. Thanks to Crown Publishing for providing me with an advance reader’s copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.