Far less a biography of Lincoln than a history of his time, this is also an account of the gathering American storm on a par with Margaret Coit's The Fight for Union. Lincoln the book borrower, the rail splitter, the pen friend of widows and children, appears only incidentally; Ann Rutledge and Mary Todd are briefly accorded the roles that time and research have assigned them. Occasionally, depersonalization results in omission of a key incident (e.g., Lincoln seeing slaves maltreated on the Ohio, in New Orleans) but on the whole his motives are traced with greater clarity and candor than in any other juvenile; he is here a principled politician responding to a series of interrelated events. Characteristically, on the eve of the 1860 conventions. ""Lincoln spoke for those Republicans who agreed that slavery should not be touched in the South, but that it would be recognized as wrong. And because it was wrong, slavery must not be allowed to spread to new lands."" Regarding the credit due Lincoln as Emancipator, the author notes the expediency and ineffectuality of the Proclamation itself, sees it, and Lincoln's stand generally, as having considerable symbolic significance; he is equally judicious in treating another controversial area, the suppression of civil rights. A stimulating exposition that not only by-passes legend but also brings forward little-known facts.