The story of Lincoln and the Harrison murder trial is intriguing but not necessarily significant enough to merit its own...

LINCOLN'S LAST TRIAL

THE MURDER CASE THAT PROPELLED HIM TO THE PRESIDENCY

A study of a murder trial with potential implications for the political career of our 16th president.

Abraham Lincoln was involved in thousands of cases in his distinguished legal career, few more intriguing than the 1859 murder trial of “Peachy” Quinn Harrison. ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Abrams (Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else, 2011) and prolific author Fisher (co-author, with Richard Garriott: Explore/Create, 2017, etc.) assert that Lincoln’s successful defense of Harrison served as a springboard to the 1860 Republican presidential nomination. In July 1859, Greek Crafton physically attacked Harrison in a drugstore; Harrison responded by stabbing Crafton with a knife, mortally wounding him. A grand jury indicted Harrison for murder, prompting his father to hire Lincoln and Stephen Logan, Lincoln’s former law partner, as defense attorneys. What unfolded was a dramatic trial, a complete transcript of which was kept by stenographer and future congressman Robert R. Hitt. Harrison’s acquittal was largely due to the judge’s decision to allow Peter Cartwright—Harrison’s grandfather and loser of an 1846 congressional election to Lincoln—to testify that Crafton had given a deathbed absolution of Harrison. Lincoln’s dramatic closing argument before the jury may have also played a role. Abrams and Fisher adeptly place the Harrison trial within the context of Lincoln’s legal career and his well-known skills before a jury, but they fail to support their argument that the case “propelled” Lincoln to the presidency. The case had nothing to do with slavery, the dominant issue of the 1860 presidential campaign and election. Moreover, there are several examples of inaccurate dates—e.g., the Comstock silver lode was made public in 1859 but possibly discovered a year or two earlier—and the authors admit that at times, “we had to deduce what was said [by Lincoln and others and]…suggest appropriate thoughts and/or mannerisms.”

The story of Lincoln and the Harrison murder trial is intriguing but not necessarily significant enough to merit its own book.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-335-42469-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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