Books: How It Began

FIRST BLOOD, THE STORY OF FORT SUMTER (373 pp.)—W. A. Swanberg—Scrib-ner ($5.95).

White-maned, Yankee-hating Edmund Ruffin watched the signal shot burst over Charleston harbor, seeming to trace in its flame the palmetto emblem of South Carolina. He had left his Virginia plantation, carrying with him a pike appropriated from John Brown's abolitionist band (its Ruffin-inscribed label: "Sample of the favors designed for us by our Northern brethren"), to see his dream of disunion come true. This—4:30 a.m.. April 12, 1861—was his great moment. Edmund Ruffin stepped proudly forward, pulled the lanyard of a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!