The age of lincoln book review

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the age of lincoln book review

The Age of Lincoln by Orville Vernon Burton

Stunning in its breadth and conclusions, The Age of Lincoln is a fiercely original history of the five decades that pivoted around the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Abolishing slavery, the age’s most extraordinary accomplishment, was not its most profound. The enduring legacy of the age was inscribing personal liberty into the nation’s millennial aspirations.
 
America has always perceived providence in its progress, but in the 1840s and 1850s a pessimism accompanied a marked extremism. With all sides claiming God’s blessing, irreconcilable freedoms collided; despite historic political compromises the middle ground collapsed. In a remarkable reappraisal of Lincoln, the distinguished historian Orville Vernon Burton shows how the president’s Southernness empowered him to conduct a civil war that redefined freedom as a personal right protected by the rule of law. In the violent decades that followed, the extent of that freedom would be contested by racism and unregulated capitalism, but not its central place in what defined the country.
 
Presenting a fresh conceptualization of the opening decades of modern America, The Age of Lincoln is narrative history of the highest order.
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Published 09.02.2019

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Orville Vernon Burton

Learning to Be Lincoln

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Do we need yet another book on Lincoln , especially in the wake of all the Lincoln volumes that appeared last year in commemoration of the th anniversary of his birth? Well, yes, we do — if the book is by so richly informed a commentator as Eric Foner , the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia. Foner tackles what would seem to be an obvious topic, Lincoln and slavery, and manages to cast new light on it. Foner has long been deliberating about Lincoln. Having probed the politics of the Civil War era, Foner is in a strong position to offer what amounts to a political biography of Lincoln.

With The Age of Lincoln , Burton has significantly widened his lens, ratcheted up his analysis and produced a magisterial narrative history of American social and intellectual life from the age of slavery up to the era of Jim Crow. New details, fresh insights and sparkling interpretations punctuate nearly every page of Burton's fast-paced and elegantly written new book. In the best tradition of grand narrative history, Burton presents an overarching thesis and judiciously selects poignant episodes and pithy anecdotes to tell his epic story. Americans before the Civil War, Burton explains, had a millennial vision and sought to fashion a perfect, godly society. Millennialism permeated antebellum political debate, undergirded the presumption of Manifest Destiny, and buttressed the understanding of honor.

Common Sense says

Stunning in its breadth and conclusions, The Age of Lincoln is a fiercely original history of the five decades that pivoted around the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Abolishing slavery, the age's most extraordinary accomplishment, was not its most profound. The enduring legacy of the age of Lincoln was inscribing personal liberty into the nation's millennial aspirations. America has always perceived providence in its progress, but in the s and s pessimism accompanied marked extremism, as Millerites predicted the Second Coming, utopianists planned perfection, Southerners made slavery an inviolable honor, and Northerners conflated Manifest Destiny with free-market opportunity. Even amid historic political compromises the middle ground collapsed. In a remarkable reappraisal of Lincoln, the distinguished historian Orville Vernon Burton shows how the president's authentic Southernness empowered him to conduct a civil war that redefined freedom as a personal right to be expanded to all Americans. In the violent decades to follow, the extent of that freedom would be contested but not its central place in what defined the country.

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  1. The Age of Lincoln book. Read 25 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Stunning in its breadth and conclusions, The Age of Lincoln is a.

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