John C. Waugh, what readers say

Friendly Comment

There is no greater high for a writer, in my mind, than praise from people, friends and strangers, who have read your books, loved them, and told you so. I have been blessed in that way, with letters and e-mails, entirely unsolicited, from many readers over the years. Here is a sampling of comments from readers about several of my books. Every one of them has made my day.

About One Man Great Enough

“Over this past weekend, I finished reading One Man Great Enough. As I put the volume down, I felt as if I were emerging from a darkened theater after viewing an unusually riveting film…I can think of no better way to kick off the Lincoln bicentennial than to read — and reread — this deeply affecting book.”

“I am reading your book, and what a read it is!… [It] tells a story, and does so with a kind of camera-like reality line…. And the language, my oh my! A joy to read.”

“I have just finished reading One Man Great Enough and I must confess it is one of the greatest books I’ve read for many years. You have mastered the art of capturing the imagination of your readers and pulling them into the story with such gentleness yet force that we live in those bygone days even when we put the book down for a while…. It was like sipping a great wine.”

“I have always revered Abraham Lincoln almost as one would a deity. Your book brings President Lincoln to life and in doing so he is not diminished in any way.”

“I have about 200 Civil War bios — mostly about Lincoln. Yours is a first — entirely different from all of them. It should be the first to read for all students of history and will be hard to put down. You covered Lincoln like no one else.”

“I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed One Man Great Enough. Wow, what a fine, fine book…. You did such a wonderful job finding and selecting quotations to go in the book, and the analysis your provided was everywhere excellent.”

“I am in the middle of reading this fantastic book. I can hardly put it down! Mr. Waugh is a storyteller genius with an obviously very credible background.”

“When I get a book like this, I savor it, so it takes a while to read it. I find myself going back and rereading passages. I am enjoying every second of it. Thank you for writing it.”

“I particularly like your ‘story book’ style of writing (my words) that make history more like a story instead of just a lot of staid facts.”

“What a treat it was to read One Man Great Enough, which I’ve just finished! It’s very well written; your concise style gives a real feeling of movement. And the book is a welcome relief from the typical gigantic historical-figure biographies that are so common today.”

“This book answers so many of my questions. I have quite a collection of Lincoln books, but this one answers things that I have not found in any of the others.”

“It is refreshing for an amateur historian, or history buff, to read the work of a pro. There isn’t much about Lincoln that I haven’t at least skimmed, but you managed to turn him over and expose some new elements — new to me, at least — of the great man.”

“I have just finished reading your book on Lincoln’s road to civil war…. I could not put it down. I have read numerous books on Lincoln, his cabinet, etc., but I have never read one that so clearly defined Lincoln’s special abilities and character. I am thankful to you for letting Lincoln speak through his own words and for quoting his friends and contemporary news accounts so frequently throughout the book.”

“Just finished your book on Ol’ Abe — One Man Great Enough. A most wonderful and enlightening read. It really brought home the ‘feeling’ on what Lincoln had to endure from early hardships to political defeats in life, until his elected presidency.”

“I just finished reading your book, One Man Great Enough. It was so well written, informative, and so contributed to the entire body of information on the topic. I just read as a hobby on U.S. Presidents. This one is to be bought and saved!”

“This is the most fascinating. engaging book I have read in many months. More than anything I have ever read about Abraham Lincoln and the roots of the Civil War, this has broadened and deepened my understanding. That is a real gift to me — and I am confident, to thousands of others who will read your book.”

About On the Brink of Civil War 

“In recent decades, American history textbooks have drained the emotion and color from this deeply significant story. Beyond restoring that vitality, [Waugh has] added the fire and brilliance of the contending personalities in a manner that surpasses any previous telling. I felt as if I had a front row seat in the historic Old Senate Chamber as the nation’s greatest political drama played out before me.”

On the Brink is a wonderful book…. The portraits of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, Douglas, Davis, Seward, Benton, et al are simply excellent…. [It] throws light on the core problem of the time [slavery] in a whole new way.”

“[The book brings] Clay, Calhoun, and Webster and their times and debates to life. Certainly they set the stage for the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the arguments that led to the Civil War.”

“We know from Jack Waugh’s previous books, among them The Class of 1846 and Reelecting Lincoln, that he is able to construct a clear narrative using substantial research in both primary and secondary sources, and he does so again in this book…. I recommend [it] for a better understanding of the issues of slavery, territorial expansion, and the threat of secession at the point in time when events have rendered the Missouri Compromise obsolete and as the nation enters its ten-year slide into war…. I would question, however, the choices of subtitle for the book: I am not sure the Compromise of 1850 “changed the course of American history.” It seems to me that, unfortunately, it was not able to change the course of American history. The debates continued, the differences deepened, and the war came.”

About Surviving the Confederacy

“I am heartily sorry to have finished a book which I would have been pleased to continue for several hundred more pages.”

“This book captured me from the get-go. Terrific social history about a couple who seemingly knew everybody and were everywhere from 1858-65.”

“What a warm, personal job you do of bringing individuals alive. I am not very far along yet, but I feel as though I already know Sara Pryor.”

“I do not think I have ever read as good a description of the suffering of the South and of what its citizens went through during the war.”

“I seriously doubt that any presentation of any litany of historical facts would have provided anywhere near the human connection to the Civil War that your telling does.”

“You have written a beautiful, beautiful story — your mother would be very proud of you.”

“I don’t think I have ever read a history that wove such a good story while staying so close to the original sources.”

“[Your book] is — truly — one that was a joy to read. I relished it. You have the rare ability of packing many meaningful and telling details in most readable sentences… the wordsmith touch of a master craftsman.”

“What an engaging, interesting, and stimulating read.”

“I’ve just finished reading your superb Surviving the Confederacy. This is a great story brought to life and masterfully told by a truly gifted writer.”

“[The book] represents what history ought to be, superior writing combined with perfectly revealing fact.”

“Your book is absolutely wonderful. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it and what I have learned from it.”

“An amazingly live and tender love story.”