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Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743289471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743289474
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even the most committed of Lincoln's fans have sometimes questioned his actions in the four months between his 1860 election and his inauguration: a period when seven states seceded from the Union. In an engrossing narrative, Holzer (Lincoln at Cooper Union), chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, painstakingly retraces Lincoln's few public statements and numerous private initiatives during this key period, revealing an astute political operator assessing the situation, organizing his government, reaching out to the South and most of all, [drawing] a line in the sand to prevent the spread of human slavery. Holzer shows Lincoln shrewdly and methodically manipulating friend and foe alike, while also taking the first cautious steps toward preparing both himself and his country for a grim trial by fire. 16 pages of b&w photos. BOMC and History Book Club main selection, first serial to Civil War Times and Smithsonian magazines. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Even some of Lincoln’s most ardent admirers find fault with his behavior between his election in November 1860 and his inauguration the following March. Lincoln is criticized by some for his reticence as secession conventions convened in Southern states, while others find some of his few public utterances too provocative to Southern sensibilities. Holzer, one of our greatest Lincoln scholars, strongly and convincingly rejects those assertions. Holzer begins with a description of the unprecedented litany of problems facing the president-elect. Lincoln, elected with less than 40 percent of the popular vote, had no electoral mandate and was feared and despised in the South. His rivals within the Republican Party constantly schemed against him and viewed him as a bumbler. Holzer maintains that Lincoln faced these obstacles with skill and strong political instincts. What some have termed as reticence, Holzer sees as the wisdom of keeping one’s mouth shut. His “provocative” statements were simply a firm assertion of his deeply held beliefs. Holzer deals effectively with a lingering controversy in a work that will be an excellent addition to Lincoln collections. --Jay Freeman

More About the Author

Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, serves as chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He has authored, coauthored, and edited forty-two books, including Emancipating Lincoln, Lincoln at Cooper Union, and three award-winning books for young readers: Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons, The President Is Shot!, and Abraham Lincoln, the Writer. His awards include the Lincoln Prize and the National Humanities Medal. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Anyone who is intersted in Lincoln and "Sucessionitis", should read this book.
Gift Card
There are many detailed stories of Lincoln's family, personal, and political relationships in this book.
Scott B. Owen
As a good part of the South seceded from the Union, Lincoln said and did little.
Hal Jordan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Scott Mingus on October 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Harold Holzer is one of America's finest historians -- a man celebrated for both his vast knowledge of Civil War-era events, as well as his fluid and readable writing style. His latest effort, Lincoln, President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-61, is perhaps his finest work of recent vintage. He focuses on the crucial four-month period between the Election of 1860 and the inauguration of the 16th President -- four months that forever changed the fundamental fabric of America. Lincoln's controversial decision to take a hard line with the Southern states, refusing to compromise on key issues such as states' rights, secession, and the right to maintain the institution of slavery.

Holzer paints Lincoln as a strong-willed, decisive politician who has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish and shrewdly manuevers support for his ambitions and objectives. Written in a fast-paced style that keeps the reader both informed and anticipating Lincoln's next move, this is a book that both presents the facts as they are known from the historical record and, more importantly, interprets the decisions, deals, and moves Lincoln made as he prepared for his presidency during perhaps the most turbulent four-month period in U.S. history.

Divided into two major sections, Holzer's book first deals with "the promise of something better," a phrase that caught fire after the disappointments of the nearly impotent Buchanan Administration. Interspersed with Lincoln's wry humor and stories are details of the political and social issues facing the President-Elect, issues that may have overwhelmed a weaker man.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on October 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A close review of the months in Abraham Lincoln's life starting with the presidential election of 1860 and ending with his swearing into office on March 4 of 1861.

Harold Holzer knows his subject both wide and deep. Here he delivers a fresh and accurate account of such matters as the lack of much comment by the newly-elected president on the pending political issues of the day; the long train ride to Washington, D.C. from Springfield (this area of coverage is detailed to a fault); the incessant but necessary handling of patronage; the deft formation of the first cabinet; and the inspired drafting of the First Inaugural Address.

This is not a general biography or history but a very focused look at the period when Mr. Lincoln changed from being a mere candidate for office to one who would lead the United States through its greatest trial.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. D. Cummins on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Holzer's work is thoroughly researched, thoughtfully structured and highly readable. Both lay and academic
audiences will find this volume to be a true delight. Many studies of Lincoln will appear during the bicentennial year of his birth. This volume sets the bar at level that is likely not to be exceeded. It is an outstanding piece
that all Lincoln scholars will cherish.

D. Duane Cummins
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John C. Nagle on December 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I liked this book, but I did not love it. Holzer reports the results of his vast research in this account of Lincoln's activities during the four months from his election until his inauguration. The book contains innumerable details about Lincoln's daily activities: besieged by office seekers, crafting a cabinet, cleverly navigating the climactic political struggle between the states, and carefully writing and editing his every word. Lincoln emerges as keenly attentive and actively involved in political affairs even though his status as president-elect denied him any official power. Perhaps the best part of the book follows Lincoln's efforts to write his first inaugural address, which Holzer justly praises as one of Lincoln's underappreciated masterpieces. As usual, one finishes the book with a greater regard for Lincoln, though Holzer recounts Lincoln's errors as well (including the fall-out from his rushed trip to Washington to avoid an assassination threat in Baltimore).

Yet the whole of the book does not quite rise to the level of the sum of its detailed parts. The detail obscures the fact that Lincoln did not have much that he could do during the lame-duck period. Indeed, Holzer quotes Lincoln's assertion that he "would willingly take out of my life a period in years equal to the two months which intervene between now and my inauguration to take the oath of office now." The disintegration of the United States that occurred while Lincoln was president-elect and his inability to do anything about it is more damning of our lengthy lame-duck periods than it is of Lincoln himself. But Lincoln's absence of power strips his activities as president-elect of much meaning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By thersites on June 28, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book has a narrow focus - the time between when Lincoln was known to have won the election, and when he was finally sworn in. I got this book because I had heard the conventional wisdom that Lincoln's inactivity during this period was a major negative, and wanted to know more - in this, this book succeeds very well. The book argues very persuasively that Lincoln had to worry about the _very_ real dangers (I didn't realize how real until this book) that either (a) the electoral college wouldn't have enough electors to form a quorum, hence throwing the election into the house, or (b) some electors could change their mind. The author also argues, slightly less persuasively, that Lincoln was very active behind the scenes, blocking this legislation, promoting that one, etc.

One thing that really struck me in this book was how less "imperial" the presidency was - at one point Lincoln holds a yard sale, writing out hand-written receipts! I found these touches very interesting and worthwhile.

I also appreciate the author's examination of the Crittenden Compromise and the Peace Commission, two last-gasp attempts by the Senate to find a compromise - the fact that of the 5 amendments the Peace Commission wound up proposing, 5 dealt explicitly with slavery, show how central and primary that issue was, no matter what revisionist historians may argue.

The author also does a good job showing Lincoln's masterful ability as a writer - I especially appreciate how it "compares and contrasts" his writings to parallel writings by Seward, Jeff Davis, etc.

Finally, recommendations for those who enjoyed this book - for those who want a "prequel", I would recommend the author's book on the Cooper Union speech ("Lincoln at Cooper Union"). for those interested in a "sequel", the excellent "Dissonance: The Turbulent Days Between Fort Sumter and Bull Run" by David Detzer starts almost exactly, to the day, when this book ends.
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