- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; 1 edition (October 7, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594201919
- ISBN-13: 978-1594201912
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 117 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.00 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief Hardcover – October 7, 2008
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Given the importance of Lincoln's role as commander-in-chief to the nation's very survival, says McPherson, this role has been underexamined. McPherson (Battle Cry of Freedom), the doyen of Civil War historians, offers firm evidence of Lincoln's military effectiveness in this typically well-reasoned, well-presented analysis. Lincoln exercised the right to take any necessary measures to preserve the union and majority rule, including violating longstanding civil liberties (though McPherson considers the infringements milder than those adopted by later presidents). As McPherson shows, Lincoln understood the synergy of political and military decision-making; the Emancipation Proclamation, for instance, harmonized the principles of union and freedom with a strategy of attacking the crucial Confederate resource of slave labor. Lincoln's commitment to linking policy and strategy made him the most hands-on American commander-in-chief; he oversaw strategy and offered operational advice, much of it shrewd and perceptive. Lincoln may have been an amateur of war, but McPherson successfully establishes him as America's greatest war leader. (Oct. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Reviewers indicated that they would have embraced any new book by James McPherson on any aspect of the Civil War period. But current events likely compelled them to recommend this highly readable, informative book with special enthusiasm. The nature of the president's war powers, particularly the precedent set by Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, has been a central question of the Bush presidency. And as the highest office in the land is passed to Barack Obama, who is both a great admirer of Lincoln and who will become the only other president to hail from Illinois, McPherson's analysis should be particularly timely. Critics agreed we could have no better guide; as Timothy Rutten wrote in the Los Angeles Times, McPherson is "one of those scholars whose ingrained integrity simply precludes him from stacking the historical deck."
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-3 of 117 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Early in the introduction (p. 5), McPherson teases us by breaking down the five functions of the commander in chief power in brilliant fashion between policy, national strategy, military strategy, operations, and tactics. Later, on p. 70, he dissects Lincoln's prodding his generals to focus more on a "concentration in time" approach which would hit Southern forces with the North's superior numbers and disrupt their clever interior line movements, instead of his generals' tired focus on "concentration in space," whereby the Union was concerned more with winning ground than engaging the enemy head-on. Similarly, on p. 142, McPherson briefly discusses Lincoln's strategy as based on his the work of Clausewitz, the leading military theorist of the age.
These sections were excellent, and whetted my appetite that McPherson would dedicate considerable energy to dissecting the bases for Lincoln's military strategies and to what extent they were ultimately the right approach for the Union. Unfortunately, aside from these instances, he never really went any further. No doubt, McPherson is a historian, and a tremendous one at that, so perhaps that explains his lack of analysis on Lincoln's leadership of developments on the battlefield and his treatment of his generals. But I was hoping for much more given the ballyhoo that accompanied this book. The book ultimately suffers for this deficiency. More generally, what about how Lincoln individually handled his generals? McPherson's look at the relationship between Lincoln and George B. McClellan is exhaustive, particularly the fascinating analysis provided on p. 47-48 which tries to impute McClellan's inaction to his privileged life up to that point:
"Having known nothing in his meteoric career, McClellan came to Washington as the Young Napoleon destined by God to save the country. These high expectations paralyzed him. Failure was unthinkable. Never having experienced failure, he feared the unknown."
Awesome stuff. But beyond that, McPherson doesn't go much further as it relates to Lincoln's bond with other generals, even with Grant. Was Lincoln too impulsive in his relieving generals like Buell, Hooker, Rosecrans, et al? What was the basis of the broader "concentration in space" outlook? Were their slow movements destined to failure, or was Lincoln's leadership perhaps too impulsive at times? Why did he take so long to promote George Thomas? There are no hard answers to these questions, but I would have loved McPherson's views on them. Overhaul, these omissions don't doom the book -- it's great history and a nice read -- but they unquestionably limit its scope.
Lincoln is our only president whose entire administration was consumed by war. His own military career was limited to brief service as a volunteer officer in the Black Hawk War of 1831. Lincoln was a brilliant autodidact who read military history and was a keen judge of men equipped to lead. Lincoln made many mistakes but learned from those mistakes to select men like US Grant, William T. Sherman and Phillip Sheridan. These three generals broke the back of the confederacy. Grant whipped Lee leading to Appomattox. Sherman beat Johnston and Hood while his march to the sea seized Atlanta, Savannnah and ravaged the Southern interior. Sheridan soundly defeated Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864
McPherson judges miltary leadership by five criteria:
1. Policy: Lincoln moved the nation from a defense of Union to one of emancipation for the slaves. In this effort he won the approval of foreign governments making the war a moral crusade. Nearly 200,000 African Americans served in the ranks of Union Blue. As McPherson notes,
" He oversaw the evolution of the war from one of limited means to a full scale effort that destroyed the old Union and built a new and better one on its ashes." (p. 267).
2. National Strategy: Lincoln led the government from that of the Union surviving to one of destruction of the Southern Confederacy. At first content to preserve the Union of 33 states (15 of which were slave holding) he moved to a total destruction of slavery and the Confederate government.
3. Military strategy: Lincoln advocated the destruction of armies rather than the seizing of enemy land. He urged his commanders to destroy Lee's Army of Northern Virginia: Bragg's Army of Tennesse and Early' army in the Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln finally found Grant to accomplish this feat as the Ohio general brought victory to the Union in his Overland Campaign against Lee in 1864. Men like Sherman and Sheridan destroyed the other major Confederate forces in the field.
Victory was difficult. Lincoln put up with many failed generals such as George McClellan who commanded the Army of the Potomac to be followed by such failures in that position as Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker and John Pope (who led the Army of Virginia). Lincoln had mixed success with George Meade at Gettysburg. He tried until he made the right choice of the right man. Lincoln believed in hard, aggressive war which led to Union triumph. He had many moments of depression but never gave up his goal of ultimate victory, the preservation of the Union and freedom for African Americans.
4 & 5. Operation and Tactics-Lincoln urged concentration of his forces in time. He urged two or more Union armies to advance against the foe on exterior lines eating away at the interior of the Confederate heartland. Lincoln was an activist who wanted all of his armies to work together as a time invading the confederacy and destroying Southern armies. This strategy finally worked with the team of Grant, Sherman and Sheridan. The Confederacy was reduced in manpower and strength as her armies were decimated in horrific losses; her cities seized and interior structure of railroads destroyed.
This book is a good introduction to Lincoln and Northern military operations during the Civil War. It may also serve as a refresher course for longtime Civil War Buffs. McPherson gives brief accounts of all the major battles of both the eastern and western battlefields. He also covers such controversial areas as Lincoln's suspension of civil liberties during the crucible of the war. These measures were necessary to preserve Union victory.
The book is a good addition to any Civil War or Lincoln bookshelf by a master of Civil War and Lincoln studies. Recommended.