From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5 Up—This volume examines Lincoln's lifelong interest in technology and inventions and how he introduced these "new and useful things" to the nation. The 19th century saw transformations in transportation and industry, and many of these innovations were utilized by the North in its victory over the South. Offering an overview of the war, the book presents chapters on topics including Lincoln's pre-inauguration train trip to Washington in February 1861, the North's Anaconda Plan for blockading Southern ports, surveillance balloons, the ironclads, new guns and ammunition, and—most importantly—the telegraph and railroads. The lively, well-researched text makes it clear that Lincoln grasped the concept of "total war" and did not hesitate to exploit the latest know-how to ensure victory. Nineteenth-century photos, reproductions, and political cartoons appear throughout, each with an informative caption. Time lines and numerous sidebars treating topics such as the Emancipation Proclamation or Morse code are also included. An outstanding section of online resources sifts out sites of "especially high value." This book is a vital addition to the Lincoln shelf and an exceptional and novel approach for students investigating the Civil War.—Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley College, Mt. Carmel, IL
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*Starred Review* The prologue to this intriguing book points out that although Lincoln grew up using tools and farm implements that his great-great-great-great-grandfather would have recognized, his own generation saw their world irrevocably changed by technological innovations, and he was the only President ever to be granted a patent (for a device to lift boats over shoals). Well researched and clearly written, the book discusses the course of the Civil War in terms of the development of new technology, from the ironclad and the submarine to the rapid-fire, repeating rifle and the use of railroads to carry troops and supplies. When the telegraph carried news from the front and Lincoln’s orders to his generals, the term “commander in chief” became more than an honorary title for the president. The many illustrations include captioned black-and-white reproductions of period prints, paintings, and photos as well as clearly labeled drawings. Sidebars comment on such topics as the mass production of armaments. A lengthy bibliography, a discussion of online resources, and source notes for quotes are appended. Readers whose knowledge of the Civil War comes from historical novels and battle-by-battle historical accounts will gain a fascinating perspective on why the war progressed as it did and how it was ultimately won. Grades 6-10. --Carolyn Phelan