Saturday, April 23, 2011

New---Lincoln On War: The Commander-In-Chief And The People's Contest

Lincoln On War, Edited by Harold Holzer, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 304 pp., index, 24.95. April 2011.

Harold Holzer has produced 40+ books on American Civil War topics. Not bad for someone whose daytime job is with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as the Senior Vice President for External Affairs, the largest and most comprehensive art museum in the western hemisphere. Though skeptical of Civil War another Lincoln book during the sesquicentennial, CWL was won over in an hour of reading.

Holzer presents portions of 160 speeches, address, proclamations, letters, drafts, telegrams, remarks to small groups, personal meditations, memorandums, letters to newspapers and mutterings to windows. Twenty five of these occurred between 1832 and April 15, 1861. The first one is a receipt dated April 28, 1832 for 30 muskets, bayonets, screw and wipers which Lincoln was obliged to return when the Sangamon County militia company is finished with them. The second item is an address to the Young Men's Lyceum regarding the importance for oral history provided by veterans and the notion themselves provide a living history. The third is Lincoln's anti-war Spot Resolution that was introduced to the House of Representatives in 1847. Holzer's editing of the documents is judicious and usually he offers Lincoln's thoughts in one , two or three pages.

Holzer provides brief and to-the-point introductions to each item. Lincoln On War provides casual personal reading and small group and classroom discussion material. As a collection of primary sources with a central theme, Lincoln On War is accessible for members Civil War Round Tables, book discussion groups, high school and college classrooms. There is a place on CWL' bookshelf for Lincoln On War, right beside Holzer's Lincoln At Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President and The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln in Popular Print.

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