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The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery Paperback – September 26, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Starred Review. Original and compelling .In the vast library on Lincoln, Foner s book stands out as the most sensible and sensitive reading of Lincoln s lifetime involvement with slavery and the most insightful assessment of Lincoln s and indeed America s imperative to move toward freedom lest it be lost. An essential work for all Americans. "
Moving and rewarding. . . . A master historian at work. --David W. Blight"
No one else has written about [Lincoln's] trajectory of change with such balance, fairness, depth of analysis, and lucid precision of language. --James M. McPherson"
Do we need another book on Lincoln? Yes, we do if the book is by so richly informed a commentator as Eric Foner. --David S. Reynolds"
While many thousands of books deal with Lincoln and slavery, Eric Foner has written the definitive account of this crucial subject, illuminating in a highly original and profound way the interactions of race, slavery, public opinion, politics, and Lincoln's own character that led to the wholly improbable uncompensated emancipation of some four million slaves. Even seasoned historians will acquire fresh and new perspectives from reading The Fiery Trial. --David Brion Davis, author of Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World"
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Fiery Trial" demands close attention, as the narrative thread winds and twists among the myriad complex issues presented by slavery and its attendent racism. In the end, the story does become one of change, how one extraordinary man traveled from the ordinary deep, casual racism of the time and place of his birth to a position that impelled him in the end to embrace a notion of equality that not only forbade slavery but demanded even-handed treatment before the law and even expanded to include that simple justice required extension of the right to vote. It was a long journey, and Lincoln was neither the perfect saint of later myth, nor the racist demon featured in so much recent revisionist history, but instead was a complex, real man who grew in stature to meet the greatest challenge of his era.
Abraham Lincoln's and Americans journey to emancipation is the subject of this excellent book. America faces serious divisions over slavery but very few over race. The wish to end slavery often did not include what to do with the former slaves. Northern states, with few slaves, accepted gradual emancipation and managed to tolerate their Black population. In the majority of Northern states Blacks could not vote, could not serve on a jury nor could they testify against a White person. Some Northern states essentially ban Blacks. In many more states, they are under server restrictions and required to post bonds to insure good conduct. Garrison said that Illinois is essentially a "slave state" due to the restrictive laws on Blacks.
This is a book about race relations more than about slavery. The majority agreed that slavery is "bad" but cannot see a reasonable exit. Gradual Emancipation is an acceptable answer. Slaves born after a set date become free when they become n years old. The current slaves either remain slaves or become free after n years. This pushes the race problem away, leaving it for another generation to deal with. Immediate Emancipation ends slavery but has few answers to the race question. Colonization is a popular answer.Read more ›
Foner sets out the story in chronological order. He strikes a fine balance between the competing demands of completeness and concision and does so with both sound scholarship and narrative flair. To say this book reads well is an understatement.
Of course we read that Lincoln grew up in border areas and had limited and somewhat ambivalent dealings with blacks. He talked about blacks in language that makes us cringe. He could be patronizing and yet he was increasingly aware. And his initial stance on slavery, which originally owed much to his "beau ideal," Henry Clay, seems in retrospect hopelessly naive. For many years, he favored a combination of gradual emancipation rather than outright abolition, compensation of slave-owners, and colonization of slaves in another nation rather than integration here. Bizarre as colonization seems to us now, among opponents of slavery it was for decades considered the only realistic option once slaves were emancipated. Even in the North, it was all but unthinkable that blacks could be integrated and enjoy social, legal and political equality.
It is widely understood that Lincoln's attitude toward blacks and slavery evolved, as did his insight into how to govern a divided nation in the midst of a war that almost daily threatened to arrive at his very doorstep.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Foner has made Lincoln a man rather than a deity. He was hesitated but also determined. And as the author said "willing to growth".Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
"The Fiery Trial" delves deeply into Lincoln's views on slavery, and traces his attitudes as they evolve from his early years right up through his last speech as President. Read morePublished 9 days ago by R Helen
Interesting to read as Lincoln learns & grows in understanding. Books details much of the infighting going on in congress as the War continues.Published 1 month ago by S. Polk
A very scholarly book that provides greater detail to the evolution of President Lincoln's feelings about salver you in America. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Robert L. Petersen
Illumination of the life of Abraham Lincoln, which considers the complicated identification of the 'Great Emancipator'.Published 5 months ago by Neku
I'm sure others have described it better but understanding Lincoln's evolution in the context of today's events in Ferguson and other places give this book new relevance.Published 5 months ago by Dinobrago
Excellent book written by one of the best Civil War historians today.Published 7 months ago by double d