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Vindicating Lincoln: Defending the Politics of Our Greatest President Hardcover – June 27, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Author and professor Krannawitter (A Nation Under God? The ACLU and Religion in American Politics) has written a stirring, carefully considered exploration of Abraham Lincoln's principles, defending them against criticism leveled at Lincoln over the years by prominent academics and pundits. Even though Krannawitter equates opposition to Roe v. Wade with opposition to slavery (both deny the primacy of human rights), his strident personal politics don't affect the quality of his scholarship. His impressive work takes on both conservative and liberal historians who diminish Lincoln's stature by ascribing expedient motives to his decisions, asserting that Lincoln was guided, even in "the most difficult and trying times," by a commitment to natural law and the idea that all men are created equal. Especially convincing is Krannawitter's argument regarding Lincoln's seemingly paradoxical support of the fugitive slave law. He also explains Lincoln's famous 1862 interchange with Horace Greely-yes, he did say, "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it," but followed up with, "and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it"-and takes on the contention that Lincoln supported big government while the South opposed it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Among the torrent of Lincoln books flow many that are critical of the Great Emancipator, condemning him as a racist, a tyrant, or a precursor to big government. Into this stream steps a scholar intent on rescuing Lincoln’s reputation from aspersions cast in titles such as What Lincoln Believed (2005), by Michael Lind, a critic from the Left, and Lincoln Unmasked (2006), by Thomas DiLorenzo, a critic from the Right. Perhaps what most worries Krannawitter is a viewpoint he believes prevalent among academics: Lincoln was more expedient than principled. The Lincoln-as-white-supremacist case, pressed by Lerone Bennett in Forced into Glory (2000), doesn’t pass Krannawitter’s muster, nor does Mario Cuomo’s enlistment (in Why Lincoln Matters, 2004) of the rail splitter in the pro-abortion cause (Cuomo extrapolated that the people shouldn’t be permitted a democratic vote on abortion because Lincoln opposed allowing them a vote on slavery). Also contesting authors who think there was a right to secession (Lincoln did not), the readable Krannawitter upholds Lincoln as the true upholder of rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. --Gilbert Taylor

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; First Edition edition (June 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742559726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742559721
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,591,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Krannawitter holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Claremont Graduate University, specializing in American political thought and classical political philosophy. He has taught at Claremont McKenna College, Hillsdale College, and George Mason University. He is one of the principal instructors for the Leadership Program of the Rockies, and frequently advises organizations on effective communications, development, and critical thinking.

After many years as a classroom instructor, Dr. Krannawitter now helps Americans speak to one another with civility, instead of past each other with hostility. As president of Speakeasy Ideas, his research has focused on creating environments of civil trust: helping people work together to solve the real political problems we face.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Antongiavanni on August 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The best book of its kind -- and for now the only one of its kind.

Vindicating Lincoln is a most necessary corrective to the raft of atrocious, mendacious, and vindictive anti-Lincoln scholarship that has cropped up over the last 25 years at least. A perverse alliance has been forged between, on the one hand, far right libertarians and neo-Confederates and, on the other hand, far left politically correct and anti-American ideologues. They may not agree on much, but they agree that they have found a villain for all seasons: Abraham Lincoln.

This is the book for you if you have ever been puzzled by the arguments that Lincoln was a "tyrant," a "racist," the "father of big government," or that Lincoln cared nothing about slavery but fought the Civil War only protect the economic interests of the ruling class. This is also the book for you if all you know of Lincoln is his grand monument and the afterglow of his once great reputation, and want an honest assessment of why generations considered him the greatest American of them all -- greater even than Washington or any of the Founding generation.

Every anti-Lincoln myth is carefully stated, and understood exactly as its proponents wish to be understood, and then patiently demolished.

This is also perhaps the best book in a generation on the Civil War -- its causes, its justice, its necessity. Krannawitter clearly describes every step in the long path that led to war, and elucidates every controversy. He does justice to both sides, knowing full well that doing full justice to the arguments of the Confederate side not only serves intellectual honesty, but better illuminates the truthfulness and righteousness of Lincoln's case.

The Civil War was a necessary war, and Abraham Lincoln was a great man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jack Searcy on September 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book on Lincoln. Thoughtful defense of our most brilliant president, demonstrating how his case against slavery was rooted in the Declaration of Independence. He knew that the Founders would not have been able to form a union of the several states had slavery been a deciding issue, but also recognized the genius of the Founders to plant the seed with "all men are created equal" in the Declaration which future generations would have to resolve. Lincoln also recognized the political atmosphere of the time and with skill and persuasion was able to promote the freedom agenda to rally a nation to defeat the secessionist South and restore a country torn apart.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Was not what I expected.... the first page I opened to in order to glance through the book when getting it I noted the response was directed primarily to a specific writer and the disputing opinion was simply that an opinion not supported by facts. Very disappointed at first glance.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Abe Lincoln was the American Solomon. He knew America better then most American's at the time.
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34 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Roy E. Perry on August 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

These words from the Declaration of Independence are the heart and soul of Abraham Lincoln's political philosophy. Based on the idea of government as a social contract--a government of the people, by the people, and for the people--they express the concept of natural rights.

Thomas L. Krannawitter, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Hillsdale College (Michigan), writes: "Saving the Union of the Constitution, preserving free elections, and placing slavery in the course of ultimate extinction were the goals for which Lincoln fought the Civil War. Unifying and justifying all of them is the principle that all men are created equal."

Krannawitter's brilliant work of scholarship is a devastating critique of historicism, revisionism, libertarianism, multiculturalism, and postmodernism--modern theories of government and morality that embrace relativism and deny the principle of equal rights.

Again, Professor Krannawitter writes, "Lincoln was consistent and unswerving in his demand that freedom, choice, and self-government be understood within the moral and political framework of the 'laws of nature and of Nature's God,' first and foremost in the natural right principle of human equality."

Lincoln's admirable statesmanship is in grave danger in the 21st century. Dr. Krannawitter clearly shows not only the relevance and importance of Lincoln's commitment to human equality for his own day, during the desperate days of the Civil War when the very existence of the Union was in peril, but also for our nation and world today.
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14 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Schwinger on December 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I strongly recommend this book. There has been an enormous attempt on the part of the libertarian movement to distort the history of the Civil War to say it was all about economic control and a stronger central government, based on revelations about our government's mismanagement of 20th century wars. The new popular myth is that the South represented freedom and the North oppression, a childish stereotype that isn't even true, since the South had slavery! Thomas Krannawitter presents a very well-researched, well-documented rebuttal of myths such as that Lincoln was a power maniac, that the North was the aggressor in the war and the South's secession about tariffs (the one they claim caused the war actually wasn't passed until after the secession!), and that the South represented freedom and the North oppression. I have never seen such twisted reasoning as the kind that Krannawitter quotes and deals with in detail. He covers all of the major attacks on Lincoln, and I came away from the book feeling much more educated and prepared to defend the President we rightly call "The Great Emancipator". It is a tedious book to read, rather verbose and sometimes too philosophical, but the benefits of reading it far outweigh the difficulty of getting through it.
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