Audrey Babkirk Wellons's Reviews > The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

The Fiery Trial by Eric Foner
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's review
Jun 15, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Read in May, 2012

While I really enjoyed this book, I'll admit it's probably not everyone's cup of tea. There is a lot about the inner workings of 19th-century American politics--you'll learn a great deal about radical abolitionists, Whigs, and the stances of early Republicans and Democrats (MUCH different from today).

The main thrust of the book involves deconstructing the myth of Lincoln as a moral beacon whose main mission in life was to eradicate slavery. The picture of Lincoln here is far more interesting, complex, and (sometimes) unflattering. Still, it shows how Lincoln's views on slavery evolved over time, and details the still important role he played in emancipation and abolition.

Perhaps most shocking was the complexity of moral action in the book (weighing the brutal injustice of slavery against the potential loss of life in a civil war, for instance), and the way party politics consistently stood in the way of advocating for abolition. If this isn't one giant mirror for today's partisan politics, I don't know what is!

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