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Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography Hardcover – January 15, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
In this wonderful new book, William Lee Miller examines, not so much the events of Lincoln's life as the evolution of the character of the man historian Paul Johnson calls "a kind of moral genius." The book covers the years from Lincoln's birth until his inauguration in 1861. In particular, Miller examines how Lincoln's politics can be squared with his morality. Using Lincoln's own words, Miller effectively refutes the revisionists of both the right and the left and restores Lincoln to his rightful place as an American giant and irrepressible foe of slavery.
Miller is an unabashed admirer of Lincoln. Through careful scholarship and relentless logic, the author dissects Lincoln's words and actions, explores his motivations and raises and disposes of revisionist arguments. He does so in an amusing and folksy style that clearly reveals his affection and fascination with this greatest of all Americans. All of the positive traits associated with Lincoln are shown to be true. In speech after speech, Lincoln is revealed to be an intractable foe of slavery.Read more ›
Miller tells us that he wants to begin afresh by forgetting the Lincoln myth and tracing the moral development of Lincoln in order to see where he winds up. But of course this is an impossibly objective position to attain, and the fix is in from page one: the reader knows--and so does Miller--who's going to win the race. Lincoln predictably emerges as a complex individual who rises to historical prominence not just because he grew into an astute statesperson, but also because he was a virtuous human being. The first alone would have given him power; both together give him greatness.
Most of Miller's tracing of the inner life of Lincoln isn't particularly new, although it is pleasingly systematic. But two characteristics of his approach are worth noting. First, Miller obviously admires his main character without falling into the hagiography that bedevils so many books on Lincoln. Second, Miller's thesis that the contours of Lincoln's moral character are shaped by his earnest efforts to repudiate his backwoods heritage is both novel and persuasive. This argument alone would make the book a worthy read.
But what the book doesn't do--and perhaps no single book can do this--is explain why it is that we simply can't seem to get enough of Lincoln. Lincoln is a sort of national icon. The fascination with him is apparently endless. Miller's book will contribute to the on-going fascination.
ethical politician. Miller introduces the Lincoln as he lived and breathe and Lincoln lived and breathe politics. Lincoln's practice of politics is familiar to us because it was partisan, compromising as well as searching for consenus and individual distinction.
Lincoln the politician seems commmon, it is his ethical quality on the rub of a matter which is outstanding. For Lincoln there was more to poltics than winning elections. There were larger issues of life to be effected by law and politics. Miller points out Lincoln achieved his moral basis from no individual but from the reading of books such as the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, biographies of Washington and Shakespeare.
Miller indicates that in Lincoln's early political career the larger issue was the rise of the common man which Lincoln believed was best achieved by Henry Clay's Whig policies. Post-1854 Lincoln's moral issue was slavery. Lincoln recognized slavery was a moral issue and to present it politcally as a moral issue and not allow it to be presented as an economic issue clouded by the prejudice of the day as Lincoln's great political rival Douglas presented the slavery issue.
Miller presents Lincoln's strength of mind and in particular its ability to study and think an issue. His clear judgment balanced by a sincere sensitivity. This was best explained by Leonard Swett in the footnotes on p490 of Miller's book.
The best part of the book was the Stanton-Lincoln relationship on pp 410-426. Stanton began with disdain of Linclon but in working with Lincoln in the Civil War Stanton grew to respect Lincoln and be astonished by Lincoln's work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful, thoughtful, book. Completely different perspective. It's too easy for us to judge the people of the time through our own lens.Published 7 months ago by Hearth
The product came really fast, way before the due date. It was in good top notch shape. Almost like new!Published on February 21, 2013 by scilla
I bought this book 6 years ago from my book club. Evidently I must have loaned it out, because when I went to look for it on my shelves, it was gone. Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Vicki S
This book examines Lincoln's achievement through the ethical, legal,and political decisions he had to make before and during his presidency. Read morePublished on December 6, 2012 by HPT
"Lincoln's Virtues" by William Lee Miller
is truly a Bible for conscientious, moral politicians and morality in general. Read more
First and foremost, the subtitle is incorrect. It should read: A Biography of Ethics. However, given the excess verbiage, often repetitious, the subtitle should be: An Unethical... Read morePublished on February 23, 2010 by S. Wasserman
Can the Mid-1800's influence you on a daily basis? Yes! Lincoln's Virtue's presents Lincoln's Character and Moral Growth in a way that parallels yours and demonstrates that... Read morePublished on April 11, 2009 by Jeffrey A. Martin