Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography

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9780375701733: Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography

William Lee Miller’s ethical biography is a fresh, engaging telling of the story of Lincoln’s rise to power. Through careful scrutiny of Lincoln’s actions, speeches, and writings, and of accounts from those who knew him, Miller gives us insight into the moral development of a great politician — one who made the choice to go into politics, and ultimately realized that vocation’s fullest moral possibilities.

As Lincoln’s Virtues makes refreshingly clear, Lincoln was not born with his face on Mount Rushmore; he was an actual human being making choices — moral choices — in a real world. In an account animated by wit and humor, Miller follows this unschooled frontier politician’s rise, showing that the higher he went and the greater his power, the worthier his conduct would become. He would become that rare bird, a great man who was also a good man. Uniquely revealing of its subject’s heart and mind, it represents a major contribution to our understanding and of Lincoln, and to the perennial American discussion of the relationship between politics and morality.

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Review:

William Lee Miller's Lincoln's Virtues is less an "event" chronology than the tracing of the moral and ethical core of Abraham Lincoln's beliefs, what Miller calls the man's "unintended preparation for greatness." Miller posits that Lincoln rightly deserves his nonpareil place in American history. But, he continues, Lincoln's greatness is best appreciated only when we realize he was merely mortal and therefore free to follow any number of courses of actions. Miller, through scores of eloquent exegeses of Lincoln's writings and speeches, explores the path--consistent, though evolving--this free agent took. Lincoln chose politics as his work. As a politician he was subject to the very real constraints of collective action. However, such was the man's "moral self-confidence," that the mantle of greatness alit on his shoulders alone. This is a revealing, delicate, and at times soaring work. It also presupposes its readers are much more than casually familiar with Lincoln's life and times. - -H. O'Billovitch

From the Back Cover:

“Marvelous . . . Miller pursues [the] ever-intriguing interior Lincoln in his usual witty, reader-friendly, and conversational voice.” – The Washington Post Book World

“Compelling and readable.” – The Wall Street Journal

“A fascinating account, sensitively written, rich in insight, of the moral self-education of our greatest president.” –Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

“By tracing the development of Lincoln's moral reasoning and his steadfast commitment to doing what he saw as right, Miller refutes convincingly any notion that Lincoln was an accidental politician who stumbled into the presidency.”– St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Outstanding interpretative biography. William Lee Miller explores Lincoln’s life and career from a unique perspective and helps us to better understand the man within the context of his times in his thoughtful, stimulating new book.”– BookPage

“Is it possible to say something new about Lincoln? The somewhat surprising answer, as William Lee Miller demonstrates in Lincoln’s Virtues, is yes.” – The New York Times Book Review

“A useful addition to the library of Lincoln books because it tackles a familiar subject from an unusual angle, giving appropriate centrality to Lincoln's moral convictions.” – Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Miller offers a distinctly new view of the Great Emancipator.” – The Christian Science Monitor

Lincoln’s Virtues is an extraordinary book. . . . Miller proves that a lively presentation, animated by wit and humor, can co-exist with careful scholarship. The result is a new and surprisingly fresh look at the historical Lincoln.” –Douglas L. Wilson

“A captivating study . . . of Abe Lincoln's moral development.” – Esquire

“The depth of [Miller’s] study is obvious. He presents his ideas with a youthful enthusiasm, leavened with . . . wisdom.” – Providence Journal

“I have digested this book completely now, and I think it the best book ever on Abraham Lincoln.” –Fred J. Martin, Jr., member of the board, Abraham Lincoln Institute.

“A fresh perspective on the man about whom more has been written than any other American.” – North & South

“Masterful. . . . Bill Miller exhibits the same cluster of worthy qualities he assigns to his subject -- penetrating insight, wisdom about human nature, tenacious purpose, a wonderful sense of humor, and an eloquent style of expression.” –Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

“Miller's celebration of Lincoln's evolution as a moral man and a moral politician will persuade, reinforce, and inspire.... Very accessible and thought-provoking.” – Arizona Republic

Lincoln's Virtues is unquestionably the most important study on Lincoln to appear in the last decade.” –Steven Rogstad, Review Editor, Lincoln Herald

“One of the most innovative studies of the sixteenth president yet to emerge.” –William C. Davis, History Book Club

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Book Description Vintage. 1 Paperback(s), 2002. soft. Book Condition: New. Abraham Lincoln was not born with his face on Mount Rushmore, notes ethics scholar William Lee Miller; he was an actual human being making moral choices in real time. Scrutinizing Lincoln's actions, speeches, and writings, as well as accounts by those who knew him, Miller's ethical biography offers insight into the moral development of this unschooled frontier politician. From the local to the national stage, Miller shows that the higher Lincoln went and the greater his power, the worthier his conduct would become—an all-too-rare example of a great man who was also a good man."Bill Miller exhibits the same cluster of worthy qualities he assigns to his subject—penetrating insight, wisdom about human nature, tenacious purpose, a wonderful sense of humor, and an eloquent style of expression."—Doris Kearns Goodwin"Much modern criticism of Lincoln hinges on the idea that he was a prisoner of his time and society. Miller, also the author of Arguing about Slavery, addresses that criticism by exploring how markedly Lincoln differed from his society. He did not hunt, chaw, drink, or belong to a church. Miller draws out, too, a speech Lincoln delivered to members of a temperance group that, rather than praising their benevolence, cautioned them against considering themselves morally superior to the drunkard. How uncannily similar in message was that early admonition to Lincoln's Second Inaugural, which was no sop to Northern righteousness. Tracing how Lincoln came to hold such views, Miller keys on Lincoln's analysis of moral affairs, which he approached with the mindset of a logician. Distilling the elements of the 'honest' in 'Honest Abe,' Miller delivers a still-enigmatic Lincoln, possessed of the steely but subtle personality that makes him one of the most, if not the most, read-about figures in history."—Booklist (starred review) 515. Bookseller Inventory # 70329

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Book Description Vintage Books USA, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 198 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. William Lee Miller s ethical biography is a fresh, engaging telling of the story of Lincoln s rise to power. Through careful scrutiny of Lincoln s actions, speeches, and writings, and of accounts from those who knew him, Miller gives us insight into the moral development of a great politician -- one who made the choice to go into politics, and ultimately realized that vocation s fullest moral possibilities. As Lincoln s Virtues makes refreshingly clear, Lincoln was not born with his face on Mount Rushmore; he was an actual human being making choices -- moral choices -- in a real world. In an account animated by wit and humor, Miller follows this unschooled frontier politician s rise, showing that the higher he went and the greater his power, the worthier his conduct would become. He would become that rare bird, a great man who was also a good man. Uniquely revealing of its subject s heart and mind, it represents a major contribution to our understanding and of Lincoln, and to the perennial American discussion of the relationship between politics and morality. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780375701733

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