Sunday, October 12, 2008
Booknotes - "Lincoln President-Elect"
I wasn't expecting Harold Holzer's new book Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 (Simon & Schuster, Oct. 2008) to be so substantially sized -- at over 600 pages. The central theme of the book -- compromise vs. war, and Lincoln's unwillingness to countenance the former in any way that would avoid the latter -- would seem to frame the heart of the matter in the correct fashion. Lincoln scholars tend to favor characterizing Lincoln's political actions in any given period as calculated genius, and it appears that Holzer will attempt just such a framework for his analysis of the Secession Winter. This is in conflict with previous studies covering this period that project the image of a man fraught with indecision (an excellent example is Lincoln and the Decision for War, a superb book published earlier in the year).