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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 45.
- Review Date: 2007-09-17
- Reviewer: Staff
Former Christian Science Monitor journalist Waugh is the author of six books on the Civil War, including Re-electing Lincoln, perhaps the most accessible and complete volume on the pivotal presidential election of 1864. In his latest book, Waugh employs the same combination of lively prose backed with solid research to examine Lincoln's life story from birth to his first presidential inauguration, rarely straying from the themes of the future of the Union, impending Civil War and, more importantly, slavery. Waugh covers the events in Lincoln's pre-April 1861 life, making liberal use of Lincoln's own words, primarily from letters and speeches, and the reminiscences of one of Lincoln's closest friends and associates, his former law partner William Herndon. Waugh shows that although Lincoln embraced white supremacy and opposed interracial marriage and black suffrage during his early years as an Illinois state legislator, he managed to separate those views from his strong opposition to the institution of slavery. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong,” Lincoln later said. “I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.” Waugh is particular adept at weaving details of Lincoln's family life into the narrative, which focuses on decidedly political matters, including the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates and the 1860 presidential election campaign. (Nov.)
A nation's commander in chief
In One Man Great Enough: Abraham Lincoln's Road to Civil War, John C. Waugh, award-winning author of four other books on the Civil War, speaks to us in an intimate narrative, frequently giving voice to Lincoln through his writings, as he leads us down the long, rocky and often muddy road Lincoln took to the White House and to war. The dramatic climax to this familiar though freshly re-imagined journey is the reconciliation between President Lincoln and his frequent debate opponent, Stephen Douglas, hours after the firing upon Fort Sumter. Enemy bullets having entered the debate, Douglas, the consummate Midwesterner, offered his support to Lincoln, the Southerner married to a Southerner, in the war effort before him. "No two men in the United States parted that night with a more cordial feeling of a united, friendly, and patriotic purpose than Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas," said the congressman who brought them together, not before their customary crowds debating slavery issues, but alone in the White House. Douglas died soon after, too soon. The "loss of his longtime friend and foe," writes Waugh, leaves Lincoln wondering whether he is the "one man great enough" to win the war, preserve the Union and end slavery.