Pragmatic Whig, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Pragmatic Whig)
Focusing on President Lincoln, a painstakingly researched and nuanced examination of the changing views on slavery and race in the nation, from ante bellum to the end of the Civil War. As a young Whig congressman from Illinois, Lincoln opposes the expansion of slavery, not for its racial injustice against black Americans but because it devalues the labor of working whites. As the Whig party dissolves, he and other free-labor, anti-slavery Whigs join the new anti-slavery Republican Party, compromise seems only to whet Southern bellicosity, and the North grows impatient and increasingly abolitionist. While preservation of the union is Lincoln's primary objective, the President's beliefs evolve to a more inclusive view of the contributions and rights of newly emancipated black citizens. This book provides a fresh and well documented perspective on the issues of race and rights that still divide the nation.
lawyerADF, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by lawyerADF)
Foner can write, and is a true scholar, as well. His description of the time in which Lincoln lived and the beliefs of those surrounding him makes his growing awareness of slavery's injustice clearly remarkable. Foner's perception is brilliantly articulated, that seeing Lincoln as having evolved his understanding of slavery's evil is more of a tribute than imagining that he was born clutching the Emancipation Proclamation in his hands.
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
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W. W. Norton & Company -
by Library Journal, Starred Review,
"Original and compelling....In the vast library on Lincoln, Foner's book stands out as the most sensible and sensitive reading of Lincoln's lifetime involvement with slavery and the most insightful assessment of Lincoln's — and indeed America's — imperative to move toward freedom lest it be lost. An essential work for all Americans."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"No one else has written about [Lincoln's] trajectory of change with such balance, fairness, depth of analysis, and lucid precision of language."
by David S. Reynolds, The New York Times Book Review,
"While many thousands of books deal with Lincoln and slavery, Eric Foner has written the definitive account of this crucial subject, illuminating in a highly original and profound way the interactions of race, slavery, public opinion, politics, and Lincoln's own character that led to the wholly improbable uncompensated emancipation of some four million slaves. Even seasoned historians will acquire fresh and new perspectives from reading The Fiery Trial."
by David W. Blight,
"Moving and rewarding....A master historian at work."
by James M. McPherson, New York Review of Books,
"Do we need another book on Lincoln? Yes, we do — if the book is by so richly informed a commentator as Eric Foner."
by Boston Globe,
"A masterwork [by] the preeminent historian of the Civil War era."
Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the , this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth.
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