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The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slaveryby Eric Foner
Synopses & Reviews
In this landmark work of deep scholarship and insight, Eric Foner gives us the definitive history of Lincoln and the end of slavery in America. Foner begins with Lincoln's youth in Indiana and Illinois and follows the trajectory of his career across an increasingly tense and shifting political terrain from Illinois to Washington, D.C. Although "naturally anti-slavery" for as long as he can remember, Lincoln scrupulously holds to the position that the Constitution protects the institution in the original slave states. But the political landscape is transformed in 1854 when the Kansas-Nebraska Act makes the expansion of slavery a national issue. A man of considered words and deliberate actions, Lincoln navigates the dynamic politics deftly, taking measured steps, often along a path forged by abolitionists and radicals in his party. Lincoln rises to leadership in the new Republican Party by calibrating his politics to the broadest possible antislavery coalition. As president of a divided nation and commander in chief at war, displaying a similar compound of pragmatism and principle, Lincoln finally embraces what he calls the Civil War's "fundamental and astounding" result: the immediate, uncompensated abolition of slavery and recognition of blacks as American citizens. Foner's Lincoln emerges as a leader, one whose greatness lies in his capacity for moral and political growth through real engagement with allies and critics alike. This powerful work will transform our understanding of the nation's greatest president and the issue that mattered most.
Book News Annotation:
The author of many books on U.S. history, Foner (History, Columbia University) traces the evolution of Abraham Lincoln's ideas and policies on slavery from his early career to his presidency, placing Lincoln within the broad spectrum on antislavery thought. The author suggests that it's a mistake to seize on any particular single quotation or speech as representing the "real" Lincoln: Lincoln's thinking evolved over time, Foner shows, and he argues that the hallmark of Lincoln's greatness was his capacity for growth. Showing Lincoln at his best and worst, and outlining his successes and failures, Foner's book gives readers a new way of looking at the man who was arguably our greatest president. This is an essential addition to any library or collection. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, and the Lincoln Prize: from a master historian, the story of Lincoln's--and the nation's--transformation through the crucible of slavery and emancipation.
: "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." --David Brion Davis, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University, author of "Definitive and breathtaking: with dazzling clarity and authority, demonstrating a total command of his sources and a sense of moral justice that transcends history, Foner has done nothing less than provide the most persuasive book ever written on Lincoln's vital place in the fight for freedom in America. This volume stands alone in the field. It is not only the best account ever written on the subject; henceforth, it should be regarded as the only account." --Harold Holzer, author of "Eric Foner has done it again. explores the pivotal subject of Lincoln and slavery free from the mists of hagiography and the muck of denigration. With his usual stylish mastery, Foner advances enlightened debate over our greatest president, the origins and unfolding of the Civil War, and the abolition of southern slavery. His book marks an auspicious intellectual beginning to the sesquicentennial of the American Iliad." --Sean Wilentz, author of
About the Author
Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. and Ph.D. In his teaching and scholarship, Foner focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and nineteenth-century America. His Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877, won the Bancroft, Parkman, and Los Angeles TimesBook prizes and remains the standard history of the period. In 2006 Foner received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching at Columbia University. He has served as president of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Society of American Historians. He is currently writing a book on Lincoln and slavery.
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