Perfect Father’s Day gifts from NYRB Classics May 31, 2011
Introduction by John Crowley
David Stacton’s long-lost novel, The Judges of the Secret Court, constitutes one of the most graceful and profound accounts of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and indeed of the Civil War itself. Today’s reader will at last have a chance to experience the masterpiece that The New York Times called “a staggering and compulsive novel” and “a triumph of the recreative imagination.”
Centering on the Booth brothers, Edwin and John Wilkes, Stacton’s gripping novel reimagines the social, emotional, and political milieu that prompted John Wilkes to target Abraham Lincoln. Wielding his lucid prose style and intelligence, Stacton transports his readers into John Wilkes’ mind on the day of the assassination and follows the troubled actor into The Ford Theater and, later, in his mad dash through the backwoods of Maryland and Virginia. Stacton’s novel is a breathtaking and enlightened exploration of political rage and what it means when a nation loses an icon of hope and wisdom.
“The Judges of the Secret Court is a superior historical fiction, accurate in detail, moving and compelling narrative and character. But it is something more than this as well, an exploration by a brilliant and thoughtful writer of the labyrinthine ways of good and evil.” —Robert R. Kirsch, The Los Angeles TimesBy Margaret Leech
Introduction by James M. McPherson
Margaret Leech’s Reveille in Washington recreates the life and atmosphere of the United States capital around and during the time of the Civil War. Written with the creative vibrancy of a novelist and the sharp accuracy of a seasoned historian, Leech’s depiction of Washington, its politicians, socialites, and artists during a time of strife and violence resonates with freshness and gripping urgency, even for our contemporary times.
The author focuses on the everyday politics and preoccupations of Washington at the time. From the stench of corpse-littered streets to the plunging lace on Mary Lincoln’s evening gowns, Margaret Leech illuminates the city and its familiar figures—among them Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, William Seward, and Mary Surratt—in intimate and fascinating detail. Leech’s book, still considered one of the major works on the Civil War, is truly one of the most engrossing and vivid accounts of this pivotal period in our nation’s history.