Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: Lincoln and the Election of 1860

by Michael S. Green

Abraham Lincoln is among the rarest of historical figures, in that the more you read about him, the more compelling he becomes.  Readers quickly devour the multitude of books published about him every year.

Southern Illinois University Press is bringing together a vast array of Lincoln scholars to elaborate on the life and times of our sixteenth president and his legacy.  The Concise Lincoln Library is a buffet of short, focused books, each concentrating on different areas of Lincoln’s life.

Contributing to the series is Michael S. Green, professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada, who has written Lincoln and the Election of 1860.  Before getting into the meat and potatoes of one America’s most divisive election Mr. Green first serves his first two chapters as appetizers, covering the establishment of America’s political parties, the fall of the Whigs and the rise of the Republican Party.

As a side dish, Mr. Green’s linear narrative deftly covers Lincoln’s early political career before presenting us with the main course, the presidential election of 1860.  He demonstrates Lincoln’s masterful manipulation of back-room machinations of the Republican convention to gain the party’s nomination.  A sauce of Lincoln’s opponents for the office of President of the United States enhances the flavor of the high stakes involved the election.  A discussion of Lincoln’s behind-the-scenes political finesse in the run up to his election as president is the red meat at the center of the meal, though by comparison to the other items accompanying it on the plate it seems a bit small.  A desert of a brief analysis of how and why Lincoln won the election immediately follows.

Lincoln and the Election of 1860 is not a nine course dinner at a four star restaurant, nor was it meant to be.  It is an easily digestible and satisfying lunch at the Bistro on the corner.  It satisfies the apatite, yet leaves you wanting more.  Would I reccomend another trip to the buffet of The Concise Lincoln Library?  Absolutely!

ISBN 978-0809330355, Southern Illinois University Press, © 2011, Hardcover, 152 pages, End Notes & Index. $19.95

No comments: