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Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream Paperback – December 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dramatically opens up Lincoln's 'political economy'... Almost any realistic view of the greatest of American presidents and the revolution he wrought begins with this book." -- Civil War News. "Comprehensive and enlightening." -- Reviews in American History. "Brilliantly independent... Elegantly written ... the best on Lincoln in many, many years." -- Mark E. Neely, Jr., The Lincoln Lore

About the Author

Gabor Boritt is Director of the Civil War Institute and Fluher Professor at Gettysburg College. He has written or edited numerous volumes on the Civil War era, including Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream, Why the Confederacy Lost, and Why the Civil War Came.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (December 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252064453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252064456
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The "prime goal" of this marvelous book by Gabor Boritt, Professor of Civil War Studies and director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, "is the examination of [Lincoln's] economic persuasion, of how it broadly manifested itself in his political life, and how it affected American history." For many readers, a book about Lincoln's "economic persuasion" may seem pedantic, if not trivial, but Boritt demonstrates that Lincoln's economic views were central to his political philosophy. Had Lincoln not been an economic nationalist, he almost certainly never would have risen beyond being an unknown, provincial Illinois politician.
As Boritt explains in the preface, Lincoln's "connections with political economy" "may appear to be dreadfully dull to some," but the author cautions that "it is indispensable." Lincoln first came to prominence in rural Illinois in the 1830s as an advocate for "better transportation - `internal improvements,' as Americans called it." As a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, Lincoln "supported the creation of many, though not all, private, river, canal, turnpike, and railroad companies." At the end of the first chapter, Boritt writes that Lincoln's "political activity was inspired, beyond the hope of personal or party gain, by a vision of endless material progress," which became the "American dream."
Because Lincoln's origins were humble, he often is portrayed as a champion of the common man, but, as Boritt observes, for Lincoln, "banking was a special interest," and, in 1835, he supported a state bank because, according to Boritt, "the Illinois economy needed banking facilities above all to support internal improvements.
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Format: Paperback
This is a unique, utterly fascinating book. It's unlike any other history I've ever read before on Lincoln, or anyone else for that matter. If you're interesting in learning about Lincoln and thinking about Lincoln in ways you never have before, this is the first book you should pick up after you've gotten your hands on the usual suspects. Be forewarned: this is dry, complex, difficult subject matter wrapped in labored sometimes economic-centric prose, and it will take some time to read and fully digest its chapters and broad ideas. As a layman and a plain fan of history, the material was very daunting to me from the outset, but as I was able to slog through the initial chapters and get my footing, I quickly realized how rewarding the book is and how much it was changing my view and understanding of Lincoln, the antebellum period, and the Civil War era. It's really a revolutionary piece of scholarship, at least in my own narrow galaxy.

Boritt is not given to conjecture (though, he is given to hyperbole with his obvious admiration of Lincoln), and carefully builds his theses on a bed of primary evidence, almost solely relying on Lincoln's words, and the words of his contemporaries and those who knew Lincoln and worked with him. He builds a brilliant case for how Lincoln's core economic beliefs and underlying support for man to enjoy the fruit of his labor would define his entire life's work, from when he was a young man seeking office for the first time in Sangamon County in 1832 up through the White House.
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Format: Paperback
I've read many titles on Lincoln and have come to know the man, his words and his deeds. But now I can say that I understand him. American revisionists have lately found it fashionable and all too easy to knock down our heroes and charge them with crimes from the perspective of the Twentieth Century. Yet, Boritt's insights are a wonderful celebration of a true American hero. And better yet, Boritt makes no apologies for it. Perhaps we needed to wait for this foreign born author to remind us what has been really important about the USA all along. Wrap yourself in the red, white and blue and feel patriotic again. Oh, and by the way, don't let the title scare you. The book is quite an easy read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book from one of the leading experts on Lincoln.
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