Most helpful critical review
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Decent, but not great
on July 23, 2010
There are some positive aspects to this book. I'm just not convinced Mr. Chadwick is a great writer. The prose comes off a bit choppy. Also, there are some incorrect statements: Alexander Stephens was a House member, not a Senator. John Bell was not the "Third Democrat" in the race. As a matter of fact, he was a Whig as U.S. Senator, and even was a Know-Nothing for a while. Early in the book, Chadwick totally blows it on a brief description of the Dred Scott case -- his wording is not an accurate summation of what the case decided.
I'm also a bit perplexed by the subtitle. Many people saw Lincoln's victory, as the book discusses, so saying no one saw it coming is at odds with what the book says. Also, ignoring the South when you wouldn't win a single state in that section isn't exactly "audacious" in my mind.
It's a decent historical overview of the nation's most significant election. But there will be better books written about the contest of 1860.