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Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution (Revised)
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Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution (Revised)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,180 ratings  ·  46 reviews
James McPherson has emerged as one of America's finest historians. Battle Cry of Freedom, his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the Civil War, was a national bestseller that Hugh Brogan, in The New York Times Book Review, called "history writing of the highest order." In that volume, McPherson gathered in the broad sweep of events, the political, social, and cultural force ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 30th 1983)
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Nathan Hart This is by no means a Lincoln bio. This is more of a study of the cultural changes (revolutions) that occurred before, during, and after the Civil War…moreThis is by no means a Lincoln bio. This is more of a study of the cultural changes (revolutions) that occurred before, during, and after the Civil War. The essays that focus on Lincoln are framed with this context. I highly recommend it, but you may want to look elsewhere :)(less)

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robin friedman
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How Lincoln Transformed America

Books on Abraham Lincoln and on the Civil War abound, but few books explore their significance with the eloquence and erudition of Professor McPherson's "Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution." This book is a compilation of seven essays which discuss the transformations the Civil War brought to the character of the United States and the indispensable role Lincoln played in bringing these transformations about.

In these essays, Professor McPherson explai
...more
Randy
Mar 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
Lincoln the Revolutionary, Lincoln the Crusader, the Visonary-- this collection of essays addresses a side of Lincoln that is largely overlooked while slapping down the Neo-Confederate Revisonists.

Those who tout the Myth of The Confederacy As Heirs to 1776 ( a popular fable here in the Commonwealth) will read this book and shrilly denonounce it. They will have however have to marshall something more than the "Standing up For Their Rights) argument as McPherson allows the words of the Confederate
...more
Matt
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Incredibly readable and concise collection of McPherson lectures from an AP US History class in high school. Some interesting points include:

- How the Civil War was more revolutionary than the original American revolution of 1776 (abolition of slavery, destruction and mass redistribution of "wealth", strengthening of the power of the federal government, etc)
- Lincoln's grand strategies for winning the war, as opposed to specific operational / military strategies
- The evolution of said national
...more
Sanju George
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The challenge facing any author who wants to write about Abraham Lincoln is finding a way to say something new. In Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, historian James McPherson meets that challenge quite well. By the time this book was published in the early 1990's, McPherson had already published Battle Cry of Freedom, a bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner. Battle Cry of Freedom is still widely regarded as this generation's definitive single-volume history of the Civil War, and ...more
John Nelson
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
As the author points out, prior to the Civil War most people, including staunch Unionists, treated the term "United States" as a plural noun, as in "the United States are . . . ." During the war, it became more common to use this term as a singular, as in "the United States is . . . ." This small change in speech reflected a major change in how Americans viewed their country.

This book includes seven essays discussing the Union's gradually increasing war objectives, and with it the increase in th
...more
Timothy
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read this book For my Book Analysis in History - I am biased towards President Lincoln so this book could do no wrong and it was not the first book/ collection of essays that I have read on the subject. If you are interested in Civil War era History or Political Science this is a wonderful read its short may take you a couple days to a week(s) to read but offers not really an original but entertaining (no Vampires) look into the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War viewed as Americas ...more
Erik Graff
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all US residents
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
This is by far the best writing I've seen on Lincoln: well written and argued, contentious yet convincing. The general theme of the seven essays, revised for inclusion here, is that Lincoln and his government created a second American revolution with profound impact which survived the 'counter-revolution' of the late 1870s. Most interesting to me was McPerson's restatement of I. Berlin's treatment of the concept of 'liberty', negative and positive. ...more
Austin
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
European radicals also viewed the American Civil War as a revolution. In London, Karl Marx followed the American war with intense interest. Marx described the war for the Union against the “slave oligarchy” as a potentially world transforming...revolution movement” if the North would only seize the moment to proclaim abolition of slavery. When Lincoln did so, Marx was ecstatic: “‘Never’ has such a gigantic transformation taken place so rapidly.”
Renay
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
A wonderful analysis of the impact of Lincoln's presidency and decision making on American culture. ...more
David Kent
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
McPherson has in this short book provided a density of thought-provoking information unsurpassed by other scholars. The book consists of seven essays drawn from presentations and lectures McPherson has given to a variety of organizations. Each delves in its own way into the question of whether the Civil War was a second American revolution. He examines what revolution means, the idea of counterrevolution, the competing concepts of liberty held in the North and South, and even Lincoln as a hedgeh ...more
Erik
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Readable essays on the theme that people back then thought that the Civil War was a second American revolution, and that they were right. Mainly because it changed our republic by establishing the principle that America was not just a country for white people but for everybody. As imperfectly as racial equality was enforced as Reconstruction started to break down and well into the 20th century, at least the principle was established that the words of the Declaration of Independence applied to al ...more
Daniel Silliman
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely little book of essays. James McPherson, an preeminent Civl War historian, thinks aloud about the question, what was at stake in the Civil War? What was at stake in the fundamental character of America?

He finds the answer in Lincoln's political philosophy, his understanding of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, his rhetoric, and the decisions he made, prosecuting the war. The answer to "what was at stake?", then, tells us a lot about Lincoln, but also lays out a par
...more
Kerry
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
For someone with a limited background in political science, this little book was a revelation. None of the self-proclaimed Constitutional scholars I see on social media ever take time to acknowledge what the Civil War did to the Founding Fathers' vision of the role of the federal government. The twin concepts of positve and negative liberty were new to me, and I'm still thinking about those passages from this book. All that being said, my favorite chapter was the one that analyzed Lincoln's use ...more
Mike
I enjoyed this short book of academic essay by the most famous Civil War historian James McPherson. The essays look at specific aspects of Lincoln as President including his use of metaphors, his single-minded focus on complete victory in the War, and his views on liberty. Great read for people with a deep Civil War or Lincoln background, but probably too heavy for anyone interested in a popular history.
Ken Peters
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of seven essays that explore Abraham Lincoln's approach to leadership, his far-reaching influence on American politics, and the the long-term implications of the American Civil War, which all represent the primary reasons I'm fascinated with the history of that conflict. To many, this would be a boring book; to me, it was a page-turner. Lincoln's leadership style provides a great many lessons, and the American Civil War has had an immeasurable impact on the character and pol ...more
Maddy Martin
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Honestly, the formatting of this book was the most irritating thing about it. A bold font with long paragraphs. Very frustrating to read. That and the fact that this book was basically a composition of contradictory evidence with very little conclusions being reached through the evidence provided. It just gives you the background info (and it's a LOT of background info) and says, "well, here you go!" ...more
R.
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
This superb collection of essays deals with why in the author’s view Lincoln led a second American revolution. Although the essays have slight variations they center on the themes of slavery and the change in outlook from liberty in its negative sense to a positive, more active use of federal power.

I found the essays that particularly deal with those two views of liberty as being a mini tutorial for a good portion of American history to the present day.
Frederick
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably one of the best books you will ever read about the true consequences of the American Civil War. I have never read a more clear appraisal of the way the war's outcome changed the way we look at everything from our rights to the Constitution to the role of government. This should be required reading in any history course on the Civil War. ...more
Ben
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Worth reading for the Hedgehog and Fox essay alone
Christopher Blosser
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Clocking in at around 170 pages, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution is a fairly quick read, offering seven thoughtful essays on the major themes in the thought and governance of Abraham Lincoln. I also found it to be good supplementary reading to McPherson's comprehensive survey Battle Cry of Freedom .

There were two chapters which I found particularly interesting and educational — the first "Lincoln and Liberty", which examined the rival concepts of 'negative' liberty (abs
...more
Jacob Lines
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
James McPherson knows Lincoln. This book, a collection of lectures about Lincoln and the Civil War, offers new views of Lincoln even for those that have already read a lot about him. And, after all of these views, Lincoln still emerges as a hero.

McPherson begins with considering what a revolution is, and whether the Civil War was a revolution. He concludes that it was. It changed things dramatically. But then there was a counterrevolution after Reconstruction that undid much of what had been acc
...more
Gary Hoggatt
In his 1992 collection, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, Civil War historian James M. McPherson draws together seven intriguing essays on Lincoln and the Civil War. The two main threads running through the essays are how the Civil War could really qualify as a revolution, given the massive transformative and and liberating effect it had on the United States, and how Lincoln lead the revolution, both philosophically and militarily. It's a very thought provoking and enjoyable co ...more
Ben
Overall, I very much enjoyed McPherson's book. He provided some really interesting and useful insight into Lincoln, his policies before and during the war, as well as the events and actions of those around him. I particularly liked the essays on how the Civil War was the Second American Revolution and Lincoln's use of metaphors. We don't typically think of the Civil War as a revolution, but McPherson provides strong evidence that not only did many people at the time see it as such-- and we often ...more
Paul Haspel
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The challenge facing any author who wants to write about Abraham Lincoln is finding a way to say something new. In Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, historian James McPherson meets that challenge quite well. By the time this book was published in the early 1990's, McPherson had already published Battle Cry of Freedom, a bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner. Battle Cry of Freedom is still widely regarded as this generation's definitive single-volume history of the Civil War, and ...more
Don
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As today’s politicians and jurists continue to debate the merits of Constitutional “strict construction” and what it means to protect and abide by the intentions of the Constitutional framers, James McPherson’s 1991 collection of papers, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, provides a refreshing refocus on the brutal process of refining just what that “strict construction” entails. Through his analyses of the thoughts and actions of President Lincoln during the American Civil War, ...more
Billhotto
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Was the Civil War revolutionary? No less an authority than Karl Marx thought so. The outcomes of the war were an end to slavery, diminishment of Southern control of national politics and the overturning of the economic and social structure in the South. During the war, Northern Republicans passed legislation that expedited the growth of an industrial economy. Historians (prior to 1994, the year of the book's publication) refuted the revolutionary characterization. They saw that ,in fact, nothing ...more
Giff Zimmerman
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite Lincoln or Civil War books. Crisply written and tightly argued, its seven chapters focus not on the events of the Civil War, but rather on the war's implications and repercussions for America, and its politics, law and culture. Each chapter focuses on a separate aspect of the war, some broad (e.g., the meaning of “liberty”, the related concepts of “total war” and “unconditional surrender”), some very narrow (Lincoln's mastery of the use of metaphor). The chapters were ...more
Nick Dupree
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, civil-war
A riveting collection of historical essays on Lincoln and the Civil War. A must have for any Civil War buff, this book especially excels when discussing the "revolutionary" changes to American society, law, and the Constitution in the early post-bellum period. Thinking of "radical" Reconstruction as a "Second American Revolution," and the rollback of voting and civil rights for ex-slaves in the 1870s as a "counter-revolution" provides a useful frame for exploring the political upheavals and raci ...more
Michael Stein
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. Very well written. It provides an excellent account for Lincoln's reasoning behind the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment. McPherson quotes Lincoln's parable about a shepherd who uses his staff to knock the wolf from one of his sheep's throat. The sheep being slaves and the wolf being slave owners. Lincoln used this parable to illustrate the audaciousnous of slave owners to decry their loss of freedom for not being able to own slaves. The same argument co ...more
James
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is not an average history book but a fascinating book of essays written by the great James McPherson. They cover and explain such subjects as how the Civil War as actually the second American Revolution, Lincoln's superb use of metaphors, the definition of positive and negative liberty, and the expansion of the U.S. government which was started during the war and Reconstruction. This book is enjoyable to read and thought provoking. ...more
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James M. McPherson, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University, 1963; B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota), 1958) is an American Civil War historian, and the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book. He was the president of the American Historical Association in ...more

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