In the essays in this collection, Thomas (History/Brown) gathers a group of historians to look at Lincoln from two directions--how he was shaped by the inherited political climate and how he, in turn, developed a new doctrine of liberal nationalism. There is not a unity of belief present here. Stephen Oates and Michael Holt, for instance, disagree in their two essays on the extent of Lincoln's political fanaticism. While Oates sees Lincoln as essentially a strong party leader who gave structure to the new Republican Party as a longstanding national force, Holt shows where Lincoln stood in stark divergence from the Congressional wing of his party and suggests that Lincoln never really drifted far from his Whig origins. James McPherson argues that it was left to Lincoln to augment the original founders' revolution with a Second American Revolution that emphasized the doctrine of the equality of all peoples. In this context, this essay makes sense of another essay by Don Fehrenbacher, who tackles the famous Lincoln letter to Horace Greeley, in which the President suggested that slavery was not the issue of the war--""If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it."" Fehrenbacher shows this to have been a ""trial balloon,"" preparing the people for the second half of his equation'. ""And if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it."" Interesting perspectives, weighted down by an overburden of academe.