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Click to search this book in our catalog And There Was Light
by Jon Meacham

Kirkus 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.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Pulitzer winner Meacham (His Truth Is Marching On) more than justifies yet another Lincoln biography in this nuanced and captivating look at the president’s “struggle to do right as he defined it within the political universe he and his country inhabited.” Drawing sharp parallels to Lincoln’s battles against “an implacable minority gave no quarter in a clash over power, race, identity, money, and faith” and today’s “moment of polarization, passionate disagreement, and differing understandings of reality,” Meacham highlights Lincoln’s struggles to live up to a “transcendental moral order” that called on humans “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God.” For Meacham, Lincoln is above all “an example of how even the most imperfect of people, leading the most imperfect of peoples,” can bend the arc of the universe toward justice. Light is shed on Lincoln’s failures, including his 1849 effort to abolish slavery in Washington, D.C., which would have required municipal officers to arrest and return to their owners any enslaved people who escaped into the district, as well as his “theological quest” to understand the “concepts of God and Providence” as he grappled with the issue of slavery and the tragic death of his son, Willie, in the White House. Richly detailed and gracefully written, this is an essential reminder that “progress can be made by fallible and fallen presidents and peoples.” Illus. (Oct.)

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Kirkus 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.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal A Pulitzer Prize-winning, No. 1 New York Times best-selling biographer (American Lion), Meacham retells the life of Abraham Lincoln to show what his confrontation with enslavement and secession can teach an embattled and polarized country today.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Pulitzer Prize–winning and best-selling Meacham's expert biography enlarges the view of Lincoln’s life by vividly rendering mood and setting. Readers will feel menace hovering over Lincoln as he travels to Washington, D.C., for his first inauguration and imagine that they are in the crowd, mud, and sudden burst of sunlight at his second. Meacham’s portraits of Lincoln’s family and contemporaries include a more balanced view of Mary Lincoln than is usually offered and startling and unsettling examples of Andrew Johnson’s racism and drunkenness. Meacham's clear, compelling, and detailed accounts of Lincoln’s childhood and the campaign for the 1864 election illuminate key aspects of his life that are not always covered. Meacham also greatly emphasizes Lincoln’s religious beliefs at every stage and shares some Lincoln witticisms not found elsewhere. The book is well-researched and up-to-date, and its informatively captioned maps, paintings, and photographs enhance the narrative. In the epilogue, Meacham traces Lincoln’s legacy to the present and concludes this fresh and revealing addition to the vast Lincoln canon with some of the best last words in any book.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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