Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Recent Reading

I recently finished President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman by William Lee Miller (2008, Alfred A. Knopf) and while I do not intend to write a full review of it, I did want to note that I enjoyed it and found it to be a good read. It has many discussions of how Lincoln, during the Presidential years, acted in the role of a statesman for the first time in his life, discovering new "friends" among many leaders of other nations.

It also discusess the moral situations Lincoln faced and how he handled them, continuing a theme from Miller's previous book Lincoln's Virtues (2002 Alfred A Knopf). Miller provides several examples for which Lincoln has received criticism for his decisions, and usually provides a counter-argument, supporting Lincoln's choices.  I enjoyed how he managed to do that.

It was a fine book, but, in hindsight, it probably should have been second in my recent list of readings, had I known the full details of how both books read, as the book I'm now reading Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Point (2008, Stackpole Books) by Lewis Lehrman also delves into some of the moral issues of Lincoln's life, but from an earlier time frame, starting with his October 16, 1854 speech in Peoria, Illinois, which established anti-Kansas/Nebraska act themes, his arguments against Stephen A. Douglas' popular sovereignty theory and, as the title suggests, marks a turning point in both the style and substance of Lincoln's public comments.

I have not finished Lehrman's work yet, but throughout what I've read so far (which does include the years after the Peoria speech), he frequently comments on Lincoln's morals and philosophy, especially regarding slavery. Had I known the full contents of both these books, I would have read this one first and followed it up with Miller's and that would have been a wonderful pairing. It's still not bad as is, as both authors touch on similar topics, but with approaches different enough to make it worthwhile to read both.

I am truly enjoying Lehrman's book  and hope to provide a fuller review for it soon, but I certainly think both these books provide interesting looks at Lincoln as a President and a man, and how he dealt with the challenges he faced.

No comments:

Post a Comment