Andy Norris's Reviews > Lincoln

Lincoln by David Herbert Donald
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's review
Feb 06, 2011

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From Abraham Lincoln's boyhood to his final hours, this book covers about as much as anyone would want to know. Amazing to learn just how intelligent and calculating he was, it's also interesting to find out how much of what he did was, and had to be, accomplished in some seemingly underhanded (i.e. "political") ways.

Of course quite a bit of the book covers the Civil War, as it was being set in motion even before his first inauguration, and it didn't end until days after his second inauguration, and days before the end of his life. The reasons for the war and the various philosophies regarding these reasons were well detailed in the book. While the Thirteenth Amendment was the most tangible product of the war, the abolition of slavery clearly was not the original intent of the Union. Had the generals Lincoln had to work with early in the war been more effective and responsive to civil authority, and the war been abbreviated, the freeing of slaves might not have happened as an effect of the war; prevailing philosophy was that slavery would die out on its own.

I would have dedicated more stars to this book, but it seems that the author could have put it through a couple more revisions before releasing it for publication. It seemed he couldn't decide between topical or chronological order of events, and he vacillated between the two. Sometimes it was confusing to keep the time line in mind.

One detail that caught my attention in a peculiar way is that Lincoln had a high-pitched, clear and loud voice. And I just couldn't help thinking of Owen Meany every time this detail was mentioned. Just saying.

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