In 1876 the abolitionist Frederick Douglass observed, "No man can say anything that is new of Abraham Lincoln." Undeterred, the contributors to Our Lincoln believe it is possible even now, especially if the starting point is the interaction between the life and the times. Several of these original essays focus on Lincoln's leadership as president and commander in chief. James M. McPherson examines Lincoln's deft navigation of the crosscurrents of politics and wartime strategy. Sean Wilentz assesses Lincoln's evolving position in the context of party politics. On slavery and race, Eric Foner writes of Lincoln and the movement to colonize emancipated slaves outside the United States. James Oakes considers Lincoln's views on race and citizenship. There are also brilliant essays on Lincoln's literary style, religious beliefs, and family life. The Lincoln who emerges is a man of his time, yet able to transcend and transform it-a reasonable measure of greatness.
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(241mm x 165mm x 28mm)
WW Norton & Co
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US Kirkus Review »
An award-winning historian assembles 12 essays from distinguished scholars commenting on Lincoln - the man, the emancipator and the chief executive.Taking full advantage of the current "golden age of Lincoln scholarship," Foner (History/Columbia Univ.; Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction, 2005, etc.) commissions contributions both from Lincoln specialists and from historians who've helped reshape our understanding of 19th-century America. With a few exceptions - David Blight's piece on the modern Republican Party's mangling of Lincoln's legacy is a bit overheated, and Catherine Clinton's commentary on Lincoln's family attempts too much in too little space - this cross-pollination succeeds. The essays are highly readable, mercifully free of academic cant and at least hint at new Lincoln discoveries, large and small. Harold Holzer makes a minor but intriguing point with his discussion of the influence of artists, painters and sculptures on famous photographic images of Lincoln. Manisha Sinha usefully recovers the names of black abolitionists - Frederick Douglass was not alone - who helped push Lincoln toward emancipation. Mark Neely takes a timely look at the fate of civil liberties under Lincoln during wartime. Especially strong contributions come from James McPherson, who reminds us of the centrality of Lincoln's role as commander in chief; Foner, who examines the controversial and surprisingly vibrant movement for colonization of black Americans in Africa or elsewhere; and Richard Carwardine, who incisively discusses Lincoln's evolving religious beliefs. The most notable essays are Andrew Delbanco's beautiful discussion of Lincoln's pioneering use of American English; James Oakes's brilliant analysis of the various rights Lincoln believed governed race relations; and Sean Wilentz's explication of the influence of Jacksonian democracy on Lincoln's politics, as promising a vein as any for new assessments of our 16th president.As the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth approaches, these provocative essays constitute a perfect sneak preview of the likely scholarly agenda. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Eric Foner
Eric Foner is the preeminent historian of his generation, highly respected by historians of every stripe-whether they specialize in political history or social history. His books have won the top awards in the profession, and he has been president of both major history organizations: the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. He has worked on every detail of Give Me Liberty!, which displays all of his trademark strengths as a scholar, teacher, and writer. A specialist on the Civil War/Reconstruction period, he regularly teaches the nineteenth-century survey at Columbia University, where he is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History. In 2011, Foner's The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, and the Lincoln Prize.