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

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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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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