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Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era Paperback – February 13, 2001


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Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era + Freedom Road (American History Through Literature) + The Civil War: A Concise History
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 3 Sub edition (February 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375725326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375725326
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A common sense, witty, and erudite analysis.”–The Atlantic

From the Publisher

"An erudite analysis of certain unrealities which have grown to be accepted as Gospel truths in the average American's thinking about Lincoln and the Civil War."--The Atlantic Monthly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By tedw@io.com on December 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
Lincoln Reconsidered is a collection of provactive essays that probe the multiple depths of Abraham Lincoln--life and mythology. He paints Lincoln's portrait onto the background of the sectional conflict that led to the Civil War. Originally published about 1961, Donald's stories remain fresh and relevant. In fact the reader will encounter the thesis and outline for his recent prize-winning biography of Lincoln. I first encoutered LR in 1962 when I taught Advanced Placement American History and assigned portions of the book to my students. They loved it; you will. Donald is a superlative historian and stylist. Listen to these chapter headings: Getting Right With Lincoln, Reconsideration of Abolitionists, Herndon and Mrs. Lincoln, Folklore Lincoln, An Excess of Democracy. Readers of Donald's Lincoln will want to have this as a companion reference piece. It's rare for an historian's essays to experience such a rich and extended publishing history. Here's a quote from my faded copy of LR, a touch of wisdom for our parlous times: "...Lincoln knew that there were limits rational human activity, and that there was no virtue in irritably seeking to perform the impossible. As President, he could only do his best to handle problems as they arose and have a patient trusdt that popular support for his solutions would be forthcoming. But the ultimate decision was beyond his, or any man's, control. 'Now at the end of three years struggle,' he said, 'the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man, devised, or expected. God alone can claim it.'" Page after page runs like this, and virtually every theme connected to the Civil War gets enough discussion to stimulate and edify.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Blum on June 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is such a wonderful book in so many ways. While I have not yet read the author's definitive biography of President Lincoln, I have read several of his much shorter works, this being the latest of them. Among the works of his that I have read, he writes in such an easy, informal, conversational tone, as if he is talking directly to me at some cocktail party, expressing his views on our greatest President in such an intelligent and interesting way. This book in particular consists of brief essays on various topics concerning President Lincoln, topics that people tend to bring up most about our President, or about those highly volatile times. While not every issue is definitively resolved, the author is always unfailingly thought provoking, which is sometimes better than feeding the reader answers. I only wish that more books like this would be written, not just about President Lincoln, but about other truly great leaders in our history, such as George Washington and our other Founding Fathers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Tom on January 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
Lincoln Reconsidered is a series of essays written by Donald prior to the publication of his award-winning biography Lincoln. First published in 1956 and now in its third edition, the essays have worn well, providing great insight into Lincoln the man as opposed to Lincoln the myth, much in the vein of Richard N. Current's The Lincoln Nobody Knows. Had Donald accomplished nothing else this would be a valuable addition to everyone's Lincoln reference library. But the value of Donald's insights goes beyond those of Lincoln and his era. As a former Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics teacher, there is much in this slim volume that is instructive for our contemporary divided America, essays relevant and useful in today's classrooms. And insights which serve as a warning, particularly his comment that, "At only one time have rigid ideologists dominated our national government--the Sumners of the North, the Jefferson Davises of the South--and the result was near disaster." (p. 13) Let us pray in 2013 that history does not repeat itself. In more or less chronological order Donald examines: Getting Right With Lincoln, The Folklore Lincoln, Toward a Reconsideration of Abolitionists, An Excess of Democracy: The American Civil War and the Social Process, Education Defective: Lincoln's Preparation for Greatness, Herndon and Mary Lincoln, Refighting the Civil War, The Radicals and Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and the American Pragmatic Tradition, A Whig in the White House, Reverence for the Laws: Abraham Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, and A. Lincoln, Politician. In each essay Donald challenges conventional wisdom and asks the reader to reconsider what he or she may have thought to be established fact.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Panhard on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
According to the author's Preface, the publisher originally wanted to title this work "Chips from a Historian's Workbench." While awkward, that title was certainly perceptive. This book takes research that perhaps never found a place in other papers or books about Lincoln and uses it to show us a different way to see him and the events leading to the Civil War.
This book contains numerous interesting bits of information about Lincoln although the one piece I found most interesting was the fact that Lincoln was a land surveyor for a time. Many writers focus on Lincoln's limited education but a surveyor must have a good understanding of mathematics and by most accounts, Lincoln was very competent. This brings to issue the long standing belief that Lincoln had little formal education but,according to the author, Lincoln's formal education was consistant with that received by young people at that time.
There are some sections of this book where Lincoln's name fails to appear and the reader might have cause to wonder if he is reading the wrong book. Fortunately, these little detours are not only interesting but help us see Lincoln and the Civil War period from a new perspective.
I found this short book (about 200 pages) to be interesting and engaging. It was written by an author who understands how to communicate and keep the reader's interest. I would recommend it to anyone having an interest in Lincoln or the Civil War.
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