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Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography

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  • Posted April 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Can the Mid-1800's influence you on a daily basis? Yes! Lincoln's Virtue's Presents Lincoln's Character and Moral Growth in a Way that Parallels Yours; Demonstrates that Politics and the Indulgence of Political Intrigue can be used for great Good.

    You've heard tales of how a book, movie or album "changed my life." I won't go quite that far, but when I look back on where some of my core beliefs changed for the better, this book was the pivot.

    1) History had always seemed remote and abstract, never personal. Lincoln's Virtue's showed how the epic events that changed the course of American History pivoted on an individual's beliefs; beliefs struggled with and refined over time. Beliefs and struggles not unlike my own (only much grander in scale). Prior to this book, I had little interest in reading history, now it's a genre I prefer.

    2) All Politics is bad. All Politicians are corrupt. The very process taints. Understanding and learning about politics is an ill pursuit. Lincoln's Virtues shows that Lincoln was in an elite class of masters of political intrigue and manipulation, yet remained true to his Principles accomplishing Great Things. While current politics is still nasty, dirty, and corrupt, it is not without hope. Politics is still a primary avenue for achieving Good things, knowing how to play politics is vital and not necessarily damning.

    3) In our quest for personal growth, our moral and spiritual growth, we are beset by doubt, setbacks, and the ever-present question of "what actions do I, must I, take to further my growth?" Lincoln's Virtues gives us a powerful inspiring example of one person's struggle and growth, and the actions he took, on perhaps the grandest of stages with the greatest of consequences. This book may forever leave you, when faced with politcal, government, or bureaucratic decisions, to ask yourself "What Would Lincoln Do?"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    Excellent new perspective on a familiar subject

    The author analyzes specific incidents in Lincoln's life - both personal and political - that demonstrate the development of his character. The information is not all new, but the take on how each choice shaped him is unique. Miller writes well for the most part, but often rambles to paragraph-length sentences that are difficult to follow. He's clearly a smartypants, I'm not sure why he feels the need to beat that into the reader's head with unnecesary verbiage.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great book !!

    A wonderful reminder of what a truly great and compassionate man Lincoln was. This book provides an insightful and intriguing look at how, from childhood, Lincoln knew right from wrong. The stories and examples of his benevolence, generosity, and sense of fairness are heartwarming and are woven into most of Lincoln's actions later in life. You understand, as you read, that Lincoln was blessed with an enormous amount both love and respect for life. Not just human life, but all life. If you are a lover of Lincoln this book is a reminder, from the perspective of pure virtue, why you are. There is a lot of Zen in Lincoln; The ability to pay attention and the deepest sense of kindness and compassion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2003

    Five Stars!

    In this ethical biography of Abraham Lincoln, William Lee Miller reveals to us an extraordinary human being--not the one made of stone or marbel, but the flesh and blood of human stuff made possible by a short lifetime of differentiation, maturation, and human understanding. Miller's research is impeccable! In fact, it's fair to say that William Lee gets into Abe's skull: one notices a sort of 'sicpassim' throughout the narrative as Miller analyzes Lincoln's trek through life, from his early, carefree, unconscious days at Knob Creek, to the work-a-day anxiety of the (Civil War) Whitehouse. Miller gives us a look at Lincoln's roots; his family--his role in that family; his almost suprahuman innate sense of justice as he interacts with neighbors and friends; his intellectual capacities given his 'lack' of education; his political ambitions; his management/leadership style; and, last but not least, Miller synthesizes the numerous component parts of pivotal events into an intimate (and fascinating) portrait of a young, 'Gawky' back woods boy who grows, and matures into the most dynamic political force ever witnessed by ALL Americans. Miller demostrates Lincoln's ability to focused on issues fundamentally right and/or wrong, as those moral absolutes apply to manumission, organic nationhood, equality under the law, and popular democracy. Miller's posit that Lincoln's life (and death) changed America, and her core values, forever more are right on. Miller's analysis of Lincoln's virtues are as clear and objective, as they are insightful and meaningful (especially as they relate to Lincoln's achetypal references to the Declaration of Independence). Miller's style is fluid -- almost like poetry. The text is well organized, and packed with notes. If you want to know about the man, Abraham Lincoln -- the human being, with all his warts, all his human-ness, all about the brilliance of intellect, heart and soul that is his alone, then pick up William Lee Miller's book on Lincoln's Virtues.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    No Freedom Without Responsibility, No Right Without Duty

    William L. Miller has made a decisive contribution by explaining to his audience how Abraham Lincoln became who he was by examining his words and deeds from his humble beginning in the Midwest to his ascendancy to the post of Commander-in-Chief in the nation's capital. Miller progressively helps his readers discover or rediscover how Lincoln's intellectual strength, tenacity and self-control developed over time made up the man who eventually became a legend after dying tragically at the apex of his destiny. To his credit, Miller does not turn Lincoln into a Saint. On the contrary, Miller paints a balanced portrait of a man who had to make compromises without losing sight of the big picture while embarking on what would ultimately become the fight of his life. Lincoln, the pragmatist, knew that even most of his allies were not ready to embrace full equality of all men and women born in this nation overnight. Like the builders of Rome, Lincoln needed time to build a case that would convince both foes and friends to become truthful to both the letter and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln's premature removal from the national political scenery quickly ushered the nation back in an era of wasted opportunities to advance the cause of an egalitarian, tolerant and multicultural society that reflects the enduring greatness of this country. The legacy of Abraham Lincoln remains today as relevant as it was at his death in 1865. Many men and women still live in political, social and/or economic bondage around the world. Developing responsible democracy and capitalism and then exporting these precious assets to the rest of the world remains in the interest of the United States of America. That endeavor has been one of the most profitable investments that the country has ever done.

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    Posted December 24, 2009

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    Posted October 31, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2009

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