The author of this political biography of the ""Little Giant"" (he was only five feet tall) presents the thesis that Douglas could have prevented the Civil War had his efforts at compromise succeeded, an argument with which not all his readers will agree. Vermont born, Douglas' early years of study and politics are filled in; his marriage to a Southern belle who left him a slave-owner at her death. This may have influenced his thinking about slavery- but did not affect his love for the Union. The great champion of the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, he argued for or against such matters as the Wilmot Proviso, Free Soil, the Dred Scott decision, always trying to hold a balance of power between North and South. Slavery was the actual subject of the famous debates with Lincoln, but their object was purely political, and while they resulted in Douglas' return to the Senate; they also resulted in Lincoln's candidacy for the Presidency in 1860. Douglas died the next year, at the age of 48..... Overloaded with complicated details of forgotten political battles and politicians, this book is not for the popular reader and may even defeat students and Civil War buffs. It is most important for reference on the political history of the pre-Civil War period.