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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"
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.
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 ›
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I saw a woman reading this on a plane, and she highly recommended it to me. I instantly bought it and loved it. A real education, learned so much about Lincoln I had not known. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anne B
I enjoyed learning about the evolution of Lincoln's views on slavery. Much different than than taught in US history.Published 1 month ago by Mike Cogswell
Eric Foner represents our best civil war era historian. I have read quite a few good books about Lincoln, but this one has a unique perspective that has, interestingly, not been... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Eric Fonder knows his history and puts a tremendous amount of research into his work (with the help of grad assistants) but he writes in a somewhat boring manner. Read morePublished 2 months ago by C.Rod
This book slows down the most dynamic period in American history, while dealing with the most-sensitive of topics- race. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Miles N
A masterful analysis of Lincoln's shifting views on the slavery question and how they were influenced by the political realities attending the Civil war.Published 5 months ago by R. Thompson
This book brings to life the era of the Lincoln presidency. Insightful and fully supported with additional materials, it makes the most challenging time of American history much... Read morePublished 6 months ago by mona berrier
Had to read this for Undergrad. Foner paints Lincoln in a new and interesting light.Published 8 months ago by Beastly
An incredibly thorough analysis of Lincoln's view toward slavery. It examines how the different circumstances in his life affected his position on slavery, and how this position... Read morePublished 8 months ago by MALA 21