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.)
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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