Jun 01, 08
Recommended to Sydney by:
Biographies aren't always boring tomes. Doris Kearns Goodwin does a magnificent job of detailing how Abraham Lincoln, a lesser known and ill-positioned candidate captures the Republican party's nomination, goes on to get elected President, and leads America through the tumult of the Civil War.
While most of us know Lincoln as "honest Abe" and the President who emancipated slaves, Kearns-Goodwin offers a portrait of a man who took many of the men who'd he'd beaten out as the republican nominee into his Presidential Cabinet. His offering them positions of significance in his Administration--positions that had the power to ruin his presidency--seemed, at least initially, to many as the act of a political neophyte or backwater bumpkin. As the Civil War is being prosecuted, readers get to see how strategic Lincoln’s use of man's personal ambitions and commitments to country made them effective members of the Cabinet.
Kearns-Goodwin's narrative offers timely reminders how a nation at war undergoes philosophical and political tensions that will takes years to heal. In reading the book, there were times when the circumstances or politicians involved in the civil war could just as easily have been the circumstances and politicians involved in the war in Iraq.
The book does an admirable job of showing the nuances of the internal conflicts that Lincoln faced abut social and political issues of the times. While he believed slaves should be free, he was slow to adapt that they should be granted suffrage. At the same time he welcomed Frederick Douglass into the White House, argued the merits of equal pay for black and white soldiers, and offered the first African American attorney the opportunity to argue before the Supreme Court.
Great history lesson that was also surprisingly readable.