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Stanton: Lincoln's War Secretary Hardcover – August 8, 2017
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“This exhaustively researched, well-paced book should take its place as the new, standard biography of the ill-tempered man who helped save the Union: It is fair, judicious, authoritative and comprehensive.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“A judiciously sympathetic treatment that tries to calm a still-uncalmable subject.” (The New York Times)
“Walter Stahr has delivered another solid, well-researched biography of a major, if often overlooked, figure in American history. His portrait of Edwin Stanton is fair-minded, rigorous, and scrupulously honest, balancing his sometimes questionable record on civil liberties with the logistical wizardry that he applied to win the Union war effort. Stanton is thus a welcome and significant addition to the ample literature on the Civil War and Reconstruction.” (Ron Chernow, author of The New York Times Bestseller Alexander Hamilton)
“Moving swiftly across the enormous landscape of Stanton's life and times, Stahr provides a narrative that is both readily accessible and compelling for scholars long familiar with the basic facts. Stahr finds in even the more ephemeral material insights into the ways Stanton stood out from his cohort while embodying the virtues and limitations of his times.” (NPR)
“A lively, lucid, and opinionated history . . . The book should be Stanton's definitive biography for some time to come.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“There are many biographies of Stanton, but Stahr’s will stand out as one of the finest and most detailed. This is a book for both scholars of Civil War history and general readers who have a deep interest in that period.” (Washington Independent Review of Books)
“Walter Stahr has given us the best all-around account of Stanton’s life as Lincoln's Secretary of War in over half-a-century. Here is the biography of America’s most difficult man—delightfully written, well-informed, humane and judicious.” (Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, winner of The Lincoln Prize)
“Walter Stahr's Stanton offers a masterly account of one of the great characters of the Civil War. The Secretary of War from 1862-1865 was irascible, autocratic, and vengeful, but also steadfast, punctilious, and practical. This fascinating biography reveals how such a complex and unlikely figure came to play such a vital role at the country's hour of peril.” (Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War)
“Stahr has given us not only the definitive biography of the man after Lincoln most responsible for Union victory, but also a work of stunning force and literary excellence. Indeed, I believe Stanton to be one of the finest Civil War biographies ever written.” (Peter Cozzens, prize-winning author of The Earth is Weeping)
“In this well researched, forcefully written and argued biography, Walter Stahr shows why Stanton deserves great credit for helping to make Lincoln a successful leader. The gruff, irascible, humorless war secretary and the magnanimous, affable, humorous president were an odd couple, but together they provided the extraordinary leadership that the times required.” (Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life)
About the Author
Walter Stahr is the author of Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary; Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man, a biography of one of the most important Americans of the nineteenth century; and John Jay: Founding Father, a biography of America’s first Supreme Court Chief Justice. He lives in Newport Beach, California.
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Stanton helped organize the winning of the Civil War, championed the rights of former slaves, took charge amidst the confusion of Lincoln's assassination, and sparked the first presidential impeachment trial in our nation's history. He was a difficult character who deserves attention and remembrance.
Walter Stahr is a fine historian and writer: I also enjoyed his two previous books on John Jay and William Seward. His book on Edwin Stanton is better and more balanced, in my opinion, than a more hostile biography of Stanton by William Marvel, which was published in 2015.
For readers interested in this period of American history, I suggest also reading the "Diary of George Templeton Strong," a work cited more than once by Mr. Stahr.
The book is well-researched and paced. It moved briskly through the life of Stanton, but while illuminating his entire life.