Reviews for And there was light : Abraham Lincoln and the American struggle

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A deeply researched look at Lincolns moral evolution on the issue of slavery.Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Meacham follows Lincoln from his rural Kentucky roots to his assassination in 1865, paying close attention to the many influences on his ideas and values. As a young boy, the future president would memorize and repeat the sermons of local pastors, and he read voraciously even though, other than the Bible, not many books were readily available on the frontier. At the time, writes the author, Lincoln was far more attracted to reading, thinking, and talking than he was to farming, rail-splitting, and hunting. Meacham astutely examines the contents of some of those books we know he read, showing their influence on his thinking. Allusions to some of them cropped up in famous speeches later in his career. The author also traces Lincolns evolution from bookish farm boy to trial lawyer to politician, a progression aided by the rise of the new Republican Party, whose views largely matched his own. Meacham sets Lincolns development against the growing crisis of the slave states determination to maintain and expand the scope of slavery, a fight culminating in Lincolns election and the Civil War. The author provides in-depth analysis of Lincolns career as president and on how his thoughts on the issues of slavery and the status of African Americans changed during the course of the war, right up to the Union victory. Where those thoughts might have led himand the nationbecame immaterial in the wake of his assassination and the subsequent accession to power of those who did not share his experiences or visionmost notably, Andrew Johnson. While there are countless books on Lincoln, one of the most studied and written-about figures in history, Meachams latest will undoubtedly become one of the most widely read and consulted.An essential, eminently readable volume for anyone interested in Lincoln and his era. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A deeply researched look at Lincoln’s moral evolution on the issue of slavery. Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Meacham follows Lincoln from his rural Kentucky roots to his assassination in 1865, paying close attention to the many influences on his ideas and values. As a young boy, the future president would memorize and repeat the sermons of local pastors, and he read voraciously even though, other than the Bible, not many books were readily available on the frontier. At the time, writes the author, Lincoln was “far more attracted to reading, think-ing, and talking than he was to farming, rail-splitting, and hunt-ing.” Meacham astutely examines the contents of some of those books we know he read, showing their influence on his thinking. Allusions to some of them cropped up in famous speeches later in his career. The author also traces Lincoln’s evolution from bookish farm boy to trial lawyer to politician, a progression aided by the rise of the new Republican Party, whose views largely matched his own. Meacham sets Lincoln’s development against the growing crisis of the slave states’ determination to maintain and expand the scope of slavery, a fight culminating in Lincoln’s election and the Civil War. The author provides in-depth analysis of Lincoln’s career as president and on how his thoughts on the issues of slavery and the status of African Americans changed during the course of the war, right up to the Union victory. Where those thoughts might have led him—and the nation—became immaterial in the wake of his assassination and the subsequent accession to power of those who did not share his experiences or vision—most notably, Andrew Johnson. While there are countless books on Lincoln, one of the most studied and written-about figures in history, Meacham’s latest will undoubtedly become one of the most widely read and consulted. An essential, eminently readable volume for anyone interested in Lincoln and his era. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.