Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $4.64 shipping
Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever Hardcover – June 1, 2004
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
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.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Hardcover : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780151009992
- ISBN-13 : 978-0151009992
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 0.75 x 8.75 inches
- Publisher : Harcourt; 1st edition (June 1, 2004)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 0151009996
- Best Sellers Rank: #459,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
As an admirer of Lincoln I found the book trite, the writing commonplace, oratorical: "We yearn for a vision worthy of the world's greatest nation." The put-downs of Bush are the best part, but there's nothing new about them. Cuomo tries to make Lincoln a New Dealer, in fact. He says that Lincoln believed that we have the obligation "to try to achieve human betterment by helping one another through sharing." He credits Lincoln for recognizing two basic principles of natural law: the obligation to recognize equal entitlement for all persons, and the necessity of working together. I have to accept these generalized statements because the author quotes many of Lincoln's speeches and writings that demonstrate their accuracy, but how do they solve any of the problems we face now, of a militant Christian crusade, a fanatical, arrogant, bellicose president bent on unilateralism and constant war, a toady to the rich and his big contributors, a destroyer of the environment and suppressor of dissent? You don't have to go back to Lincoln to see the effects of a bad administration; Harding, Coolidge and Hoover are close to us enough.
On Lincoln's birthday in 1998, Newt Gingrich said that "any student of Lincoln would conclude that America must bomb Iraq." This exploitation of Lincoln for political purposes, and in fact the Bush crowd's exploitation of FDR and Harry Truman for Republican propaganda purposes, is vile. Cuomo is right to excoriate it, and also to deplore the "flamboyant showmanship" and lack of dignity of Bush's landing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to declare victory in Iraq just ahead of the deaths of a thousand American troops in that quagmire.
Lincoln desired inclusion, not exclusion. That's why we fought the Civil War. He was blessed with many character traits lacking in Bush: integrity, intellectuality, lucidity, subtlety, common sense, reasonableness, and the capacity to inspire the moral rise of the country. It's odd that this man, who had less than a year of formal education, saw things more clearly than "our first MBA president."
It's when Cuomo gets into subjects such as our trade deficit, consumer debt, the issue of "corporate welfare," the Kyoto Protocol, and "faith-based" policies, that he leaves Lincoln far behind and tells us more about his own beliefs than those of his subject. And he gets into quite a bind attempting to explain away Lincoln's suspension of civil rights during the war, his odd concept of religion [although it was enlightening to learn that Gen. Grant issued an order banning Jews from territory under his control, and Lincoln reversed the order], and his early court defense of a slave-owner. His desire to appoint Supreme Court justices who agreed with his policies sounds strangely familiar, too.
I read the book for the same reasons that Cuomo probably had for writing it: an admiration of Lincoln and a disdain for moral midgets like Bush. But it's not really a book at all. It's a 200-page homily. The dictionary defines homily as a sermon on a moral theme, sometimes including platitudes. I did appreciate the numerous quotations showing Lincoln's beautiful use of language. He must have been one hell of a trial lawyer.
How much the reader enjoys this book will depend on what he or she expects to find here. The title might suggest that Cuomo is offering a non-ideological general examination of Lincoln's significance in modern decades in general. That reader might be disappointed in this book. But if the reader is looking for a book by an articulate, prominent liberal who knows and admires Lincoln and who applies what he believes are Lincoln's lessons about very specific political issues, then he or she will enjoy this book very much. Readers who've enjoyed Cuomo's earlier analyses of American politics such as Reason To Believe will enjoy this book, too.
Like Reason To Believe, this book offers Cuomo's view of current politics, but this book does so with an eye toward answering the question: what would Lincoln say about that? Not surprisingly, Cuomo argues that Lincoln would agree with a modern liberal perspective on a wide range of issues facing America going into the 2004 presidential election. More importantly, he argues that President George W. Bush--like Lincoln, a Republican wartime president--has not operated according to Lincoln's principles on a wide range of topics. And, all the worse for Cuomo, where Bush has followed Lincoln's lead, he's done so on the issues where Lincoln didn't proceed as Cuomo thought best--particularly in the efforts to curb civil liberties during wartime by both presidents.
The 2004 election, which Cuomo clearly had in mind when writing this book, was a notably polarizing one in the eyes of many. Partisan reaction to this book will almost certainly break down along the same lines. What's more, the issues discussed here are still very current today, as are the divisions. Cuomo's use of Lincoln in these debates may need to be taken with a grain of salt, but his command of Lincoln and strong ability as a writer means he makes his case very effectively for the most part. While this book will certainly provide ammunition for liberals in current American politics, it will also provide food for thought--or for argument--for people of all political stripes with an interest in the American politics of the past, present and future. More importantly, it is a fresh reminder of how enduring and relevant the views of Lincoln remain--a point on which both Democrats and Republicans for once can agree.
People who dislike this book call it a screed, full of Bush-bashing, etc. To which I say "the facts are biased." However, any fair reading of Lincoln's morality, his invoking of religion, and of course, his eloquence all are in evident contrast to the current leader.
Cuomo's suggestion for Lincoln's 2004 State of the Union address contains this: "What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our missiles, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined armed forces. These are not our most important safeguard against the terrorizing of our fair land: Our principal reliance must be on the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms."
In the moral wasteland we now find ourselves, it is good to be reminded that we, at least once in our history, had a leader that could summon us to consider our situation from the highest moral perspective.