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The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln's Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 22, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616839473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616839475
  • ASIN: B001PO6AZY
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,797,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Morris offers a juicy look at Lincoln the brawling, calculating politician. It is an immensely personal, profoundly readable insight of how even our most august Presidents assume and inflict ample bruises on their way to Pennsylvania Avenue.”—Justin Bachman, Business Week
(Justin Bachman Business Week )

“Offers insights into both the political and human sides of the struggle between these two key players. It’s academic but accessible to the general reader.”—Reference & Research Book News
(Reference & Research Book News )

"The Long Pursuit takes its reader to an original place in history—not merely to the famous 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates or the familiar 1960 presidential election but into the lives, the failures and successes, and the chases and confrontations of the two greatest men of their age."—Jason Emerson, The Historian
(Jason Emerson The Historian ) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Roy Morris Jr., is the editor of Military Heritage magazine and the author of four books on the Civil War and post-Civil War eras, including Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876, which the Wall Street Journal hailed as "bravely nonconformist and greatly entertaining"; The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War, which the New York Times praised as "a thrilling narrative told with empathy and vast learning"; and Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company, which the Washington Post called "a rousingly good life." Roy Morris lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 31 customer reviews
Very interesting, readable, and well written.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in Lincoln or the 19th Century.
David W. Nicholas
Which is just what this book needs as it tells a different story.
Timothy Haugh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on January 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Abraham Lincoln is probably the most famous past president in our history, with the possible exception of George Washington. Lincoln was a great man, but most people don't remember that for much of his life, he was largely a political failure, if a principled one. The chief reason for this was a political rival, a Democrat named Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas was a powerhouse in the Senate for a quarter century, forging compromises and legislation, arguing the cause of compromise with the South so that discord didn't destroy his party and country. Douglas and Lincoln met in debate repeatedly, and were rivals in Illinois politics for a considerable time.

While they were rivals, they were also at least cordial, if not outright friends. Finally, in 1857, Lincoln was nominated for the Senate seat Douglas held, and the two met in a series of debates. Douglas won the election, but had to say things in the debates that alienated the South, while Lincoln managed to engage, even energize the Republican sentiment in much of the country with his side in the debates. Within two years, Douglas was a weak candidate for president, fatally wounded by a rival Democrat nominated by the Southern Democratic party, and so Lincoln triumphed in the presidential election in 1860.

The story of all of this is very well-recounted in this book by Roy Morris Jr. Morris is careful to give Douglas his due. Frankly, Stephen A. Douglas should be a better-known figure in American politics. When Lincoln won the presidency in 1860, Douglas, in spite of the animosity that had permeated the election, immediately endorsed Lincoln, and castigated the South for their threats to secede. This sort of politics is today very unusual, and you wonder whether anyone today thinks they could learn from the past.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in Lincoln or the 19th Century.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Coming, as I do, from the Land of Lincoln, new books on our 16th president are always of interest. Rarely do they seem to take a new tack on an old story. Though some are better written than others, many seem to cover the same ground. Morris, however, does something interesting in his book, The Long Pursuit. He gives us a look at Lincoln through the long-standing relationship/rivalry between Lincoln and the other important Illinois politician of the time, Stephen Douglas.

In fact, if the truth be told, Douglas was the more important of the two figures right up to the point that Lincoln won the presidency in 1860. Throughout the 1850's, Douglas was the powerhouse Democratic senator from Illinois and perennial candidate for president while Lincoln remained, if not an unknown, certainly a small-time, provincial politician. It was, of course, his series of debates with Douglas and the resulting fallout during the senate election of 1858 that finally took Lincoln to national prominence and gave him his shot at the presidency two years later.

In some ways, it is too bad that Douglas has been all but forgotten except as Lincoln's foil in those all important debates. (Can you tell I'm from one of the cities in which those debates took place?) Considering his impact during those antebellum years, Douglas deserves better. And, to his credit, Morris does him justice here. We are offered plenty of fair insight into Douglas's character here and how he tried to navigate his way through difficult times while being a powerful leader. In many ways, I feel I know Stephen Douglas much better from reading this book.

Still, this is Lincoln's story. And it is Lincoln's story under a spotlight focused on a very particular period of time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Lupton on August 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This title is essentially a dual biography of the political lives of Douglas and Lincoln. Although well-researched and informative, with numerous personal anecdotes covering both men, it never quite brings Lincoln or Douglas to life.

Instead, Morris emphasizes the growing struggle of words, political parties and ideas as America grappled with its "irrepressible conflict." The author conveys Douglas as a capable conventional politician with "practical solutions to political problems" who nonetheless "failed to recognize that many northerners and southerners had moved beyond mere politics into a realm of theoretical certitude as exacting and precise as a hard-shelled Baptist's understanding of sin." (p. 193) Douglas strove to stand on a middle ground that was dividing like a geological fault line. The chasm opened and Douglas fell through - obvious with historical perspective but not so to Douglas and his followers in the late 1850's.

Too intellectually intense to be a simple "good read," this book nonetheless conveys well a recurring theme in politics when a paradigm shift suddenly renders a "reasonable" viewpoint out of date. In ordinary times, the experienced and capable Douglas might have become president. But times were not normal, and so a rustic, funny man with a gift for speaking and a latent consistency of purpose rose to become America's president in its hour of greatest need.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on May 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were the two preeminent Illinois politicians of the pre-Civil War era, and their debates are an important part of American political history. On the eve of the 150th anniversary of these debates comes the release of "The Long Pursuit," which chronicles the complicated political relationship of these men far beyond these famous debates. I'm a neophyte to Lincoln history, so I approached this book with some trepidation. Fortunately, the book is well-written and straight-forward enough that I was able to follow along without knowing a great deal of Lincoln history.

The average person knows Douglas mostly through his debates with Lincoln, and Roy Morris Jr. notes with irony that most people think that Douglas lost the political race in which the debates occurred. Instead, Douglas won the Illinois Senate race against Lincoln; he was considered a star in politics, whereas Lincoln remained essentially a relatively obscure country lawyer. When Douglas became an obvious Democratic nominee for the Presidency, these debates actually ended up helping Lincoln, as his supporters in the Republican Party could argue that Lincoln knew Douglas and his debating style so well that he could match up well with Dougles, despite the earlier loss. Fortunately for Lincoln, his stance against the spread of slavery into new territories gained greater acceptance in the North than did Douglas' appeasement approach, and he managed to spring to the Presidency over the better known Douglas (helped by the entry into the race of several third party candidates).

Indeed, throughout his early career, Lincoln seemed to be inexorably tethered to Douglas, although history obviously has dimmed the reputation of Douglas, who was known as the Little Giant in his day.
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