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Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution Reprint Edition

36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195076066
ISBN-10: 0195076060
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In seven thoughtful essays the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom examines Lincoln's role in the transformation wrought by the Civil War--the liberation of four million slaves, the overthrow of the social and political order of the South. McPherson calls the 16th president a conservative revolutionary whose goal was to conserve the Union as the revolutionary heritage of the founding fathers. He addresses at length a subject oddly overlooked by historians and Civl War scholars: Lincoln as strategist and war leader. McPherson flatly states that he was responsible for the unconditional Union victory. Lincoln's superb leadership as president, commander-in-chief and head of the Republican party, the author concludes, determined the pace of the "second American revolution" and ensured its success. These scholarly essays convey the enduring significance of Lincoln's words and ideas as he grappled with issues which, as McPherson points out, will never become obsolete: the meaning of freedom, the limits of government power and individual liberty in time of crisis and the problems of wartime leadership.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- McPherson has once again written a gem of a book. Seven essays offer many provocative and original observations about our 16th president and his political philosophies. Lincoln's demand for unconditional surrender, the effective use of metaphors in his writings and speeches, and his steadfast dedication to "the proposition that all men are created equal." are a few of the topics addressed. McPherson's style is flowing, his clarity is illuminating, and his grasp of history is inspiring. Students and teachers will use this readable and well-researched collection either as a whole or a chapter at a time. A worthy and desirable addition to any high school library.
- Peggy H. Mooney, Fairfax County Public Lib . , VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 173 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (June 4, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195076060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195076066
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He has published numerous volumes on the Civil War, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom, Crossroads of Freedom (which was a New York Times bestseller), Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, which won the Lincoln Prize.

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#92 in Books > History
#92 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Omer Belsky on March 19, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James McPherson is not only the preeminent Historian of the US Civil War, but one of the greatest historians working today. He offers razor sharp analysis of complicated issues, with fair consideration of all points of view. Best of all, McPherson does all that in clear, concise and at times poetic language, that is remarkably easy to read.
'Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution' enjoys all the benefits of McPherson's considerable scholarship. Its problems are almost exclusively editorial.
This thin volume (152 pages of text; 20 more pages for notes, bibliography and an index) contains seven essays about the two themes in the title - The US Civil war seen as the second American Revolution, and Abraham Lincoln's role in it.
The first essay argues convincingly that the Civil War did radically change the Unites States. From a Slaveholding Republic, it became a free one. Politically, the center of gravity moved from the South to the north. Economically, the Industrial revolution, earlier contained in New England, spread out and defeated the plantation economy. In the South, the prevailing order was weakened, although not surmounted, and the situation of Blacks improved considerably, although equality was still very far. The theme McPherson is most interested in, however, is the change from a philosophy of negative liberty - freedom from government oppression - to one of positive liberty - the right for protection - guaranteed by the Federal government.
The second essay discusses Lincoln's role as the leader of the revolution. Lincoln, McPherson argues, was a pragmatic revolutionary. The revolution, which he brought on America, was caused by Lincoln's accurate assessment of necessities, not by a strong ideological tie to the revolution.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John J. Manning on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an absolute must buy. It is incredibly well written and very persuasive. Using the back drop of Lincoln's administration, it describes the fundamental revolution that took place in the American political structure as a result of the Civil War. It forced me to completely reevaluate my feelings on everything from federalism to political liberty. You will not regret reading it.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
As any Lincoln fan knows, the struggle that our 16th President endured during the Civil War was enourmous. This book offers more insights into the constitutional questions that dominated the Civil War. And makes it seem that, unlike any other man in our history save George Washington, Lincoln completely loved, admired, respected, and protected American democracy. Yet, the book also gives us an insight into the counterarguements of the time, something many reviews fail to provide. Over all, this book reinforces every notion of courage, intelligence, and sacrifice that Lincoln has recieved since his death. He truly did lead us through a second revolution.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
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 indespensable role Lincoln played in bringing these transformations about.
In these essays, Professor McPherson explains that the changes the Civil War brought about can be summarized in two words: Nation and Liberty. First, The Civil War transformed a Union of States into a single Nation. This change is exemplified in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. As Professor McPherson points out in the preface to his essays, in the Gettysburg Address Lincoln spoke of the American "nation" rather than of a "union" in order "to invoke a new birth of American Freedom and nationhood." (p. vii)
Second, the change of America from a union of states to a nation was accompanied by a change in the concept of liberty on which the nation was founded. In a word, this change involved emancipation, the abolition of slavery, and the application to all people of the principle articulated in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal". In several essays, Professor McPherson uses the work of the political philosopher Isaiah Berlin to develop a distinction between negative and positive liberty. Before the Civil War, liberty was understood primarily in a negative way whcih involved individual freedom from government regulation and freedome from interference with private property.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Tomasino on November 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION by James M. McPherson has concise and crisp language and deep insights into Lincoln's mind. Each of six essays shows that it was Lincoln's reality anchored character and powerful intellect that transformed the United States to the country it is today. One essay shows how Lincoln's use of metaphor, culled from Aesop's Fables, the works of Shakespeare, and the Bible made him a consummate communicator. His metaphors resonated to the deepest layers of mind of the average American in way that instilled motivation and purpose to a war that seemed impossible to manage or win. Compare to Jefferson Davis who was so highly educated and abstract but was unable to connect with ordinary folk. But it is McPherson who too is able to convey to us this president's great powers with his own metaphors i.e. "barnyard philosophy," and his essay, "The hedgehog and the fox," which compares and contrasts Lincoln's abilities with the "smartest contemporaries." This book is a great distillate of the voluminous Civil War Literature.
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