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Lincoln on War [Kindle Edition]

Harold Holzer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

President Lincoln used his own weapons—his words— to fight the Civil War as brilliantly as any general who ever took the field. In Lincoln on War, historian Harold Holzer gathers and interprets Lincoln’s speeches, letters, memoranda, orders, telegrams, and casual remarks, organizing them chronologically and allowing readers to experience Lincoln’s growth from an eager young Indian War officer to a middle-aged dove congressman to a surprisingly hardened and determined hawk as the Union’s commander-in-chief.

We observe a man willing to sacrifice life and treasure in unprecedented quantities, to risk wounding the pride of vain generals, and even to mislead the public if it meant the preservation of an unbreakable union of states, the destruction of slavery, and the restoration of America as an example to inspire the world. This volume covers strategy; tactics; the endless hiring, sustaining, motivating, and dismissal of commanders; military discipline; and military technology. Modern commanders-in-chief have repeatedly quoted Lincoln to justify their own wars, so it behooves us as citizens to know Lincoln’s record well. From masterpieces such as the Gettysburg Address to lesser-known meditations on God’s purposes, Lincoln on War is the first book to highlight exclusively Lincoln’s sublime and enduring words on war.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Harold Holzer is one of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He has published over thirty books, including "The New York Times" Complete Civil War (Black Dog and Leventhal), and is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Lincoln Prize and the National Humanities Medal. He lectures widely, appears on television frequently, and has written for the New York Times, American Heritage, and America’s Civil War. Most recently he served as co-chair of the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and is senior vice president for external affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Find him online at

Product Details

  • File Size: 926 KB
  • Print Length: 334 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1565123786
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004W4FMA8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,507 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Silent Artillery of Time May 14, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A nice array of Abraham Lincoln's written comments on war as complied by the noted expert on our greatest president, Harold Holzer.

Mr. Holzer keeps his informed introductions to the selected comments brief, wisely allowing Lincoln's clear words to speak for themselves. (I was interested to learn that the weight of current scholarship is now on the side of President Lincoln, not John Hay, as being the author of the famous letter of condolence to Mrs. Bixby.)

This book is not a substitute for reading more comprehensive biographies and histories of the Civil War period, but does provide a handy resource for most all of Abraham Lincoln's recorded thoughts on all that touches upon armed conflict.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lincoln's Evolving Views on War May 10, 2011
Harold Holzer has made a name for himself as an Abraham Lincoln scholar in addition to his "real" job working for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Holzer has helped write or edited more than a dozen works on Lincoln so it is only fitting that he has put together this excellent collection of Lincoln's words dealing with war.

Each chosen piece receives a brief introduction from Holzer providing the reader with background information. Organized chronologically Holzer uses Lincoln's words from over 160 letters, speeches, telegrams, orders, and more to illustrate the evolution of the man many call our greatest President. Holzer starts with a couple of brief statements from the 1830's before moving into Lincoln's prime years. While the large majority of these works are from the Civil War years Holzer provides many early examples allowing readers to trace the evolution of Lincoln's views. While there are many familiar works here such as the "A House Divided" speech upon accepting the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1858 and the 1863 Gettysburg Address the majority will be unfamiliar except to the most veteran of students. Therein lies the beauty of this work.

While this book is really aimed at those with an interest in Abraham Lincoln it should be read by anyone with an interest in the Civil War. The book is such that it can be picked up and put down without problem. Each of the entries is concise enough that readers with even short amounts of time can pick this book up. The subject matter and very reasonable price would make this an ideal book for college level work on the Civil War or Lincoln. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Lincoln On War, Edited by Harold Holzer, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 305 pp., index, 24.95. April 2011.

Harold Holzer has produced 40+ books on American Civil War topics. Not bad for someone whose daytime job is with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as the Senior Vice President for External Affairs, the largest and most comprehensive art museum in the western hemisphere. Though skeptical of Civil War another Lincoln book during the sesquicentennial, CWL was won over in an hour of reading.

Holzer presents portions of 160 speeches, address, proclamations, letters, drafts, telegrams, remarks to small groups, personal meditations, memorandums, letters to newspapers and mutterings to windows. Twenty five of these occurred between 1832 and April 15, 1861. The first one is a receipt dated April 28, 1832 for 30 muskets, bayonets, screw and wipers which Lincoln was obliged to return when the Sangamon County militia company is finished with them. The second item is an address to the Young Men's Lyceum regarding the importance for oral history provided by veterans and the notion themselves provide a living history. The third is Lincoln's anti-war Spot Resolution that was introduced to the House of Representatives in 1847. Holzer's editing of the documents is judicious and usually he offers Lincoln's thoughts in one, two or three pages.

Holzer provides brief and to-the-point introductions to each item. Lincoln On War provides casual personal reading and small group and classroom discussion material. As a collection of primary sources with a central theme, Lincoln On War is accessible for members Civil War Round Tables, book discussion groups, high school and college classrooms. There is a place on CWL's bookshelf for Lincoln On War, right beside Holzer's Lincoln At Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President and The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln in Popular Print.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lincoln On War . . . What else is there to say? January 22, 2012
One hundred-fifty years have passed since the beginning of the American Civil War, during which time more books have been written on that topic than on any other in American history. More books have been written about Abraham Lincoln than any of the forty-three men who have held the office of President of the United States. Is there any need for more books to be written about the Civil War? About Lincoln? Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln, having written over forty books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era, obviously thinks there is.

In "Lincoln On War," Holzer, has gathered and 160 of Lincoln's speeches, letters, memoranda, orders, telegrams, and casual remarks on the topic of war. Organized chronologically, Holzer briefly introduces and interprets each chosen document, and taken as a whole they reveal Lincoln's evolution from an eager young officer in the Blackhawk War, to an anti-war Whig Congressman, and finally to a determined commander-in-chief. The documents also demonstrate Lincoln's evolution as Commander-in-Chief of the military of the United States; first by following the advice of his military advisors, then studying military texts, and ordering the movement of military forces. Once Ulysses S. Grant was appointed General-in-Chief Lincoln's guidance of military matters was less needed and gradually he transitioned into directing war policies and let his generals dictate the movements of the armies.

Mr. Holzer, has focused his book solely to Lincoln's thoughts and writings about war. The author has redacted out whole paragraphs or sections of some of the longer documents which have nothing to do with military or war topics.

Is "Lincoln On War" a must have for students of the Civil War? No.
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