Saturday, March 29, 2008

Briefly - "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858"

Oxford University Press has released a new edition of The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (ed. Robert W. Johannsen). This 150th Anniversary edition has a new foreword by historian James L. Huston. As a critical review of the modern debate scholarship, this lengthy (30+ pages), annotated essay provides readers with a thorough introduction to the debates, along with a summarization & critique of the continually evolving scholarly arguments about their meaning.

The complete text from each debate is laid out in seven chapters with endnotes. Supplementing these are two earlier, and frequently referenced, speeches -- Lincoln's famous House Divided speech and Stephen Douglas's July 9, 1858 address in Chicago. While the foreword and the main text alone are useful enough reference tools to make the new edition worthy of consideration, the lack of an index is unfortunate. Beyond Huston's essay, additional commentary to the transcribed speech texts is limited to Robert Johannsen's brief notes.

[The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 eds. Robert W. Johannsen and James L. Huston (Oxford University Press, 2008). Softcover, new foreword, notes. 368 pages. ISBN: 9780195339420 $24.95]

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