Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Age of Lincoln

by Orville Vernon Burton

From the publisher:
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.

Orville Vernon Burton is professor of history and sociology and a University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author or editor of eight previous books, including the Pulitzer prize-nominated In My Father's House Are Many Mansions.

From Library Journal:
Lincoln's real legacy? The idea that personal liberty really matters-and should be protected by law. From history professor and Pulitzer Prize nominee Burton.