Synopses & Reviews
Manning an independent historian and teacher unsuccessfully attempts to offer new insights about Lincoln using as a lens his role as parent to four sons two of whom died young. The narrow focus means that major landmarks in Lincoln's life are regarded only in passing. Manning feels that other works have given Lincoln's fatherhood short shrift and that it "illuminates" the challenge fathers face in balancing work and family. This single minded objective leads Manning to questionable interpretations. For instance in 1849 after Lincoln was passed over by Zachary Taylor for the position of Commissioner of the Great Land Office he was offered the governorship of the Oregon Territory as a consolation prize. Other biographers more plausibly explain Lincoln's refusal as the result of the rational calculation that it would marginalize him politically but for Manning Lincoln acted "to put his family first." The suggestion that Robert Lincoln may have understated his relationship with his father out of privacy concerns is a reasonable one but overall there is less here than was intended. Manning claims to have gotten a "unique insight" into Lincoln because he worked as an attorney while raising four daughters with his wife but that doesn't translate into a worthwhile book. (May) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."