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Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream--and How We Can Do It Again Hardcover – June 11, 2013

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Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream--and How We Can Do It Again + George Washington: The Crossing + Malice Toward None: Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Broadside Books; 1ST edition (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062123785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062123787
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A gem: powerfully argued, beautifully written, and both politically and historically illuminating. Lowry makes an impassioned case for a contemporary Republican renewal on truly Lincolnian lines.” (Charles Krauthammer, nationally syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor)

“In this important book, Rich Lowry explains how the president’s opposition to slavery was closely intertwined with his belief in economic freedom. Lowry’s book reminds us that the ultimate basis for economic freedom is moral: It honors the dignity owed to every person, regardless of skin color or social condition.” (Paul Ryan)

“We live today, Rich Lowry writes, in a ‘Lincolnian republic.’ Lowry explains what that means through a fascinating exploration of some of the less well known aspects of LIncoln’s life and thought. In recapturing the ‘essential Lincoln,’ Lowry helps us think about what’s essential to the promise of America.” (William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard)

“In this briskly written, persuasive study, Rich Lowry rescues Lincoln from misguided attempts to portray him as a proto-progressive.” (Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life)

A quick, smoothly readable account of Lincoln the political striver, the embodiment of the Declaration’s ’central idea…that every man can make himself.’” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This book is essential for understanding why Lincoln’s convictions and ambitions are vitally relevant for conservatives today.” (Bill Bennett, author of America: The Last Best Hope)

From the Back Cover

In this thoughtful mix of history and politics, the New York Times bestselling author and editor of National Review—the conservative bible founded by William F. Buckley, Jr.—traces Abraham Lincoln's ambitious climb from provincial upstart to political powerhouse and calls for a renewal of the Lincoln ethic of relentless striving.

Revered today across the political spectrum, Abraham Lincoln believed in a small but active government in a nation defined by aspiration. Fired by an indomitable ambition from a young age, the man who would be immortalized as the "railsplitter" never wanted to earn his living with an ax. He educated himself in a frontier environment characterized by mind-numbing labor and then turned his back on that world. All his life, he preached a gospel of work and discipline toward the all-important ends of self-improvement and individual advancement. As a Whig and then a Republican, he worked to smash the rural backwardness in which he was raised and the Southern plantation economy that depended on human bondage.

Both were unacceptably stultifying of human potential. In short, Lincoln lived the American Dream and succeeded in opening a way to it for others. He saw in the nation's founding documents the unchanging foundation of an endlessly dynamic society. He embraced the market and the amazing transportation and communications revolutions beginning to take hold. He helped give birth to the modern industrial economy that arose before the Civil War and that took off after it.

His vision of an upwardly mobile society that rewards and supports individual striving was wondrously realized. Now it is under threat. Economic stagnation and social breakdown are undermining mobility and the American way. To meet these challenges, Rich Lowry draws us back to the lessons of Lincoln. It is imperative, he argues, to preserve a fluid economy and the bourgeois virtues that make it possible for individuals to thrive within it.

More About the Author

Rich Lowry was named editor of National Review in 1997. He is a syndicated columnist and a commentator for the Fox News Channel. He writes for Politico, Time magazine, and often appears on such public affairs programs as Meet the Press and Face the Nation. His book, Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years, was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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If you love presidential history this book is a must read.
David E. Thomson
I found the book very interesting as it has a totally new approach to a well written about subject.
Judith L. Miller
The author recaptures Lincoln policy, a strong society, and morals and values that bring rewards.
Geraldine Ahearn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Geraldine Ahearn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
New York Times bestselling author, Rich Lowry chronicles a comprehensive, historical narrative,rich in history and politics as this compelling story entertains throughout. The author presents information on what Lincoln believed in as he stepped into political power,his influence on the market, transportation, and the communication revolution. In addition, Rich Lowry shares with his readers on how challenges were met, arguments on preserving a good economy, and why economic freedom is a crucial factor to keeping the American dream. The author recaptures Lincoln policy, a strong society, and morals and values that bring rewards. Information is also presented on Lincoln opposing slavery, and the importance of dignity and respect for all. This fascinating account of Lincoln's life highlights what's essential for the promise of America, and why Lincoln's ambitions are extremely relevant for conservatives today. Powerfully moving, informative, interesting, thought-provoking and educational. A very enjoyable read. Highly recommended!
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Eric Mayforth on June 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest statesmen in our history, holding the country together and maintaining a fervent belief in what we refer to as the American Dream. Rich Lowry's "Lincoln Unbound" is a brilliant combination of politics and history that looks back on Lincoln's life and career in politics and how it is still relevant even today.

Lowry examines Lincoln's early life, noting that above all Lincoln stood, not just for himself but for everyone else as well, for self-improvement, the extension of opportunity, and the chance to rise through hard work in a dynamic, capitalist society.

The author discusses Lincoln's personal character and traits that made him successful in politics. The future president originally joined the Whig Party--the Whigs do not completely line up with either of our modern-day major parties, but in Lincoln's day combined a belief in self-control, rationality, and middle-class morality with a push for modernization, invention, public improvements, and opportunity. Lincoln rejected class politics and revered the Founders and the Constitution. Lowry also recalls the Lincoln-Douglas debates and why Lincoln thought slavery wrong.

Lincoln's vision of a free, dynamic, industrialized, capitalist society full of opportunity triumphed. Lowry shows how President Lincoln's economic policies helped win the Civil War, and those same policies ultimately led America to become the world's foremost power and win both World War II and the Cold War in the twentieth century.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Two score and seventeen years ago, historian David Herbert Donald noted the tendency of politicians to appropriate Abraham Lincoln's name and words in support of their preferred policies. Borrowing a phrase from Illinois Republican pol Everett Dirksen, Donald titled this phenomenon, "getting right with Lincoln."

Between the Civil War and the dawn of the New Deal, this appropriation was done solely by Republicans (or ex-Republican Bull Moosers like Teddy Roosevelt). Then, in 1932, casting about for a usable past, Teddy's cousin Franklin began appropriating Lincoln's name and words for Democratic Party initiatives. Since FDR, progressives have routinely claimed Lincoln as one of their own. Indeed, in 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama verged on presenting himself as Lincoln redivivus.

Lincoln Unbound by National Review editor Rich Lowry sets out to reclaim Lincoln for the Grand Old Party by putting Lincoln's ideology and policies in biographical perspective. Raised dirt-poor on the American frontier, Lincoln dreamed of escaping the hard, dreary life of working the land. Like many other young men on the make, he turned to Henry Clay's Whig Party, whose "American system" of moral improvement, infrastructure development, and protectionist policies aimed to create a new America, unlike the vision of self-sufficient yeoman farmers so beloved by partisans of Jefferson and Jackson. Lincoln the Railsplitter became Lincoln the Railroad Supporter. Indeed, he seemed never to have found an industrial innovation he didn't like.

He never liked slavery, however. Like most Whigs, he was content to attempt to limit the extent of slavery. Henry Clay--Lincoln's "beau ideal of a statesman"--had negotiated the Missouri Compromise of 1820, limiting slavery to the South (Missouri excepted).
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By paul zisserson on August 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Warning! If the title suggests to you that this is an academic work and if that is what you want, don't read this book. Lowry is a polemicist who is the editor of conservatism's flagship publication, National Review. In spite of criticizing liberals who use Lincoln to support their policies, he spends a great deal of time, particularly the last chapter, doing the same. However, this warning does not mean you shouldn't read the book. Lowry writes effortlessly, is familiar with the scholarly literature on Lincoln, and is bravely willing to take a stab at what Lincoln would support over one hundred and fifty years after his death. Much less debatable than whether Lincoln would be a Republican or Democrat is Lowry's take on Lincoln's broad view of what is the good life and how it should be achieved. When discussing Lincoln's commitment to an upwardly mobile society with free labor and government support of infrastructure projects, Lowry is very persuasive and interesting.
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