April 1865 is about the end of the Civil War. It describes the history that lead to the particular events that occurred, starting with the constitution and continuing through the final surrender. At every step, the lecturer discusses what it means to the nation, as a whole.
Jay Winik, the author and lecturer, is a professor of history and has served in national security. His work has involved him in numerous civil wars around the globe.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this, I picked it up at Barnes and Noble during one of their 75%-off sales. My first impression wasn’t strong, the lecturer was almost monotonic and the content seemed weak. But that impression was quickly replaced when he provided, not just the historical facts, but full background and motivations; then he made it all sound interesting!
Jay Winik builds the story mostly chronologically, discussing each of a large number of major characters. For each, he provides a background, discusses strengths and weaknesses, and his position in the power and political pictures of the period. He made the people come to life, they were no longer names in a book, but real people. He brought the struggles, defined the relationships between the different people, and build their personalities.
There is so much information that we never learned, I strongly recommend this lecture series for anyone interested in history. For any US Civil War buffs, it is a must.