From Lincoln to Nixon, the author concentrates on national elections and their issues in Republican party history. This is lively political reading, for Mr. Mayer has no heroes and villains in his view of the last 110 years -- just politicians (and a couple of generals) who are examined in the light of their political performances and their possession or lack of political acumen. The party that ""nobody of any consequence"" was paying attention to started as a third force when the Whigs disappeared. It remained to oppose the Democratic party while gradually shifting from its original base as the party of crusade and innovation, according to this critical history. ""There is no evidence that the Republican Party will die in the foreseeable future, but unless it seizes the initiative when issues develop here is little likelihood that it will become the majority party."" The author writes with journalistic ease and gives to the Standard Bearers and their partisans personal color that is often missing in histories. There is much information on the organizational triumphs and failures involved in getting the Republican vote ut and extensive documentation of the statistics and anecdotes. The book doubles as an entertaining history of American government.