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ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE ROAD TO EMANCIPATION

1861-1865

A fine account of a brilliant piece of political strategy.

Neither biography nor history of the Civil War, this is an account of Lincoln’s tactics between the 1860 election and his announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.

Historian Klingaman (The First Century, 1990) points out that the abolitionists, although heroes to us, were looked upon by most of their contemporaries as a noisy minority, irresponsible and perhaps crazy. Lincoln disapproved of them, knowing that most Northerners opposed slavery but usually despised Negroes nevertheless. The conflicts leading to the Civil War, in the author’s view, had less to do with abolition than with the spread of slavery to the West, where (alarmists feared) slave labor would depress wages and monopolize the cheap land. During his presidential campaign, Lincoln took pains to assure the South that he had no interest in abolition, and even after secession he believed the departed states would return if he could convince them that slavery would be legally protected. He was also obsessed with keeping the slaveholding Border States (Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Delaware) from seceding. Unfortunately for Lincoln, however, the Republican leaders of the new Congress were enthusiastic abolitionists. The author draws a fascinating portrait of Lincoln’s political maneuvering during his first two years in office: on one side he fended off civic, congressional, and even cabinet pressure for immediate abolition; on the other, he faced growing antiwar sentiment, encouraged by the North’s persistent defeats. When the time seemed ripe, he issued the proclamation: a turgid, legalistic document announcing abolition as a strictly military measure (it abolished slavery only in rebel-held territory). Its reception was mostly bad: abolitionists considered it a feeble gesture, and there was widespread anger in the Midwest and Border States that the war was now “for the Negroes” instead of for the Union. Republicans did badly in the 1862 elections. Yet, as time passed, most anti-Negro Northerners accepted emancipation as a harsh but necessary measure to strike at the South, and Lincoln’s faith that the proclamation’s practicality and absence of moral fervor offered the only chance of success was eventually vindicated.

A fine account of a brilliant piece of political strategy.

Pub Date: March 19, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-86754-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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