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Stephen A. Douglas Paperback – April 1, 1997

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Review

"At once a work of enormous scholarship and of deep insight. Here, for the first time, is the full story of a great career, told with such skill that we can now understand why Abraham Lincoln found the 'Little Giant' the most formidable political rival he ever faced." -- David H. Donald, author of Lincoln and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1008 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252066359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252066351
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,380,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
A five-star political narrative history of the leading statesman of the nation after the passing of Henry Clay, but a four-star biography as it barely touches the subject's domestic life. However, the author has painstakingly accounted for almost every political act of Douglas, who the reader discovers was the only possible savior of the Union in 1860. His electoral failure was the failure of the nation to understand what the disastrous consequences would be - a total civil war willingly initiated by abolition and secession extremists. Although as racist and expansionist as most of his contemporaries, his political motives were of the purest democracy (as he understood it). His constant attempts to get the nation's attention away from slavery and back on nation-building were futile was were his attempts to find a compromise on the eve of war. His anguish at seeing his beloved nation and party fall apart brought on his untimely death which left a 25-year void in the leadership of the Democratic Party. A great read for antebellum political junkies!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Janums on April 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is probably going to stand as the ultimate political biography of the Little Giant.

It's all here. Beginnings, rise to prominence, decades of tireless work, Kansas-Nebraska in detail, the Senatorial campaign of '58 then the eventual breakup of the country in '60.

I did not know until reading this book what lengths Douglas went to in order to try to keep our Union together. He was willing to stand WITH Lincoln, (his political rival!), in order to keep our Union together. Many were furious with him for aiding a Republican. But Douglas was a great man who transcended party for something much more important. He felt that party affiliations were secondary to the safety of our nation. How many politicians would have the guts to do what he did today?

This is a very long book-more than 800 pages. Lots of detail.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By O. Pflug on March 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Stephen A Douglas was the political heir to the great nationalist politicians who first became prominent during the War of 1812. He literally followed the footsteps of Clay and Webster. His leadership was vital to passing the Compromise of 1850. Douglas always took the course that he felt best kept the nation together, always supporting expansion and economic development and decrying the rise of divisive slavery politics. He was not an apologist for southern radicals however. Despite being know as Abraham Lincoln's nemesis in Illinois, Douglas ended his life as a supporter of Lincoln's war proclamation. I really gained a level of respect for Douglas after reading about his forlorn tour of the South during the election of 1860 where he tried desperately to stave off secession. Douglas though was a virulent racist and it is hard to speculate if he would have continued to support Lincoln through Emancipation.

One the best biographies I have ever read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ezreid@inav.net on December 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Johannsen's work will stand forever, it seems, as the authoritative study of Stephen Arnold Douglas, the man who almost alone carried the Jacksonian banner of democracy and union through the decade of American disintegration leading up to the Civil War. The views of Jackson and Douglas, in broad strokes, still today inform political thought in this country and around the world as recognizable elements of their philosophy turn up in "The Third Way" movement of moderation and political pragmatism that is sweeping the globe. A critical figure in American history and present, Douglas receives fine treatment at the hands of Prof. Johannsen, and is seen as much more than the anti-Lincoln that so many ill-informed people believe him to be. Indeed, Lincoln was little more than a gadfly, an anomaly for much of his career. His election was a fluke. Douglas' entire life bespeaks his status as the everlasting statesman that he was and Johannsen is a master at showing this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Lawrence Miller, Lincoln author on August 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
The standard biography of Lincoln's political rival has much about Illinois politics involving both men, and of course the book treats great national issues on which they took opposite sides. The volume is massive and well documented. Its treatment is sympathetic to Douglas but not unduly so, raising points worthy of consideration by admirers of Lincoln
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Stephen A. Douglas
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