BRIARCLIFF MANOR – As a child growing up in Baltimore, Jamie Malanowski visited nearby Gettysburg and Antioch were Civil War battles were fought, and the war reenactments he saw along with his toy soldiers bred in him a life-long interest in that complex time in history.
After a long career in journalism, during which he was an editor at Time, Spy, Esquire and Playboy, Malanowski, who lives in Briarcliff, decided that for this year's 150th anniversary of the Civil War he would write a week-by-week present-tense account of the tumultuous six-month period between the election of Lincoln in November 1860 and the bombardment of Fort Sumpter in Charleston, S.C. in 1861, when the Civil War began.
"In the south, some states like South Carolina couldn't wait to secede while other states wrestled with the decision. It was really wonderfully complex," said Malanowski, 58. "In the north, there was a kind of mirror image – Should we let these people go, or should we fight to keep them?"
Malanowski's real-time account that delves into the intricacies of political figures, like past president Abraham Lincoln and past presidential candidate Stephen Douglas, was first published beginning in July 2010 as a weekly blog in the New York Times called "Disunion."
Part way through the project, Malanowski's editors suggested he turn his series into a book.
Malanowski enriched his own accounts with newspaper articles, speeches and memoirs, and his project, called "And the War Came" was recently published by Byliner into an e-book that is available from Amazon.com and other book outlets for about $5.99.
"It was a great pleasure for me to sit and read and just immerse myself in the time period," said Malanowski, who researched for his project almost entirely by reading books and online publications.
One detail that Malanowski enjoyed was that Lincoln got a migraine headache and collapsed after agonizing over a decision whether or not to send more troops to the battle of Fort Sumpter, which marked the beginning of the Civil War.
"We think of our great leaders as being made out of marble, stone, but they were people too who had to wrestle and suffer migraine headaches," Malanowski said.
Malanowski hopes to get history students in high school and college to read his book as an alternative to conventional history books which are presented in a dry, orderly fashion.
"I would think students would appreciate this format which is very lively and not at all dry and stuffy," he said. "My hope is to find a way to get this in front of teachers and librarians."
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