Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power

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9781400044566: Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power
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An original and deeply insightful biography of Abraham Lincoln, already awarded the prestigious Lincoln Prize.

As a defender of national unity, a leader in war, and the emancipator of slaves, Abraham Lincoln lays ample claim to being the greatest of our presidents. But the story of his rise to greatness is as complex as it is compelling. In this superb biography, the highly regarded Oxford University historian Richard Carwardine examines Lincoln both in his dramatic political journey and in his nation-shaping White House years. Through his groundbreaking research, Carwardine probes the sources of Lincoln’s moral and political philosophy. We see how, while pursuing office, Lincoln drew strength from public opinion and the machinery of his party. We see him, as a wartime president, recognizing the limits as well as the possibilities of power, and the necessity of looking for support beyond his own administration. We see how he turned to the churches, to their humanitarian agencies, and to the volunteer Union Army for allies in his struggle to end slavery.

In illuminating the political talents that went hand in hand with large and serious moral purpose, Carwardine gives us a fresh, important portrait of the incomparable Abraham Lincoln.

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From the Publisher:

The prestigious Lincoln Prize for outstanding achievement, the largest such prize offered in the field of American history, has been awarded to Richard Carwardine, Oxford University, for this analytical biography of Abraham Lincoln. Leader of the anti-slavery Republican coalition and the wartime Union, Abraham Lincoln has become a model of a particular kind of democratic politician who led rather than followed. The latest volume in the very successful Profiles in Power series tells the story of a wartime leader who had to grapple with issues of responsibility, rights and nationalism. Richard J. Carwardine examines Lincoln's rise to power and his achievements as US president. The book explores the wider sources of Lincoln's authority and skills in embracing a broad range of elements within the Republican party. In particular, it looks at Lincoln's shrewd relationship with evangelical Protestantism. His ability to harness and channel the power of the Protestant constituency was key to his winning the presidency and rallying support behind his national and emancipatory vision. For those interested in Lincoln, the Presidency and the Civil War. The Lincoln Prize has been in existence for 14 years and is presented awarded annually by the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute at Gettysburg College.

From the Back Cover:

"Rarely does a biography of a popular historical figure offer all the qualities that make for a good read: lively writing, a fresh perspective, significant insight, and a compelling narrative. Carwardine does all this and more ... There is simply no other Lincoln biography like it."

-- Tom Schwartz, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

" The publication of this beautifully written book, which makes use of the earliest evidence and the latest insights, marks a high point in a decade that has been particularly rich in Lincoln scholarship.  No one seriously interested in Lincoln can afford to ignore Carwardine's judicious work."

-- Daniel Walker Howe, Oxford University and The Huntington Library

"The Atlantic can serve as a wonderful clarifying prism. Oxford don Richard Carwardine looks across it and paints a remarkable picture of the greatest of the Americans who fused the secular and the sacred."

-- Gabor S. Boritt, Director, Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College

 

 

As a staunch defender of national unity, a successful war-leader, and the emancipator of the slaves, Abraham Lincoln lays compelling claim to being the greatest of America's presidents.

This fresh political biography examines Lincoln both as a rising politician and as president, and focuses on the sources of his authority and achievement. It reveals his political talents and serious moral purpose but shows, too, how in pursuing office he depended on public opinion and the machinery of party. As war leader, he saw the limits as well as the possibilities of power, and looked beyond the government to other engines of support, including the churches, the humanitarian agencies and the volunteer Union army.

Carwardine's study places Lincoln firmly within the changing context of his time, and shows his talent for reading and reaching many strands of opinion as he fashioned a national purpose. Emancipation became an end in itself, toward which God's own plan appeared to be driving him.

Richard J. Carwardine is Rhodes Professor of American History at Oxford University. His publications include Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America (Yale University Press, 1993).

 

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