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Posted August 5, 2010
Alternative View a Must for Fully Exploring the Topic
One could assume a fair amount of bashing of the Author for even suggesting the idea that there was another alternative to war in order to reign in the renegade Southern states, especially when that suggestion is, essentially, that Lincoln could have simply done nothing and the secession movement probably would have resolved itself due to a lack of political will. Marvel suggests that it was only the invasion of Charleston Harbor that galvanized the South against a "tyrannical" north. Marvel suggests that but for this action the secession would not have gained any real steam but for a few rogue states that could have been reigned in without the massive bloodshed of the widespread war. Also, to suggest that doing nothing was a viable alternative takes away from the inculcated national memory of the heroic struggle to end the unjust and immoral institution of slavery. Nevertheless, earnest, exploratory but contrarian viewpoints such as Marvel's deserve a place in the vast landscape of literature that supports the heroic, "only one alternative" model.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Marvel lays out some compelling narrative for consideration and to reflect upon. Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus was particularly interesting but also quite frightening in that it happened in this Country less than 100 years after the ratification of the Constitution. Accounts and speculation about the actions and motivations of various administration bureaucrats also adds flavor to the criticism. However, and disappointingly, the narrative was often less than cohesive and took a detour into the weeds reading more like a civil war historian's detailed account of battles with movements of individuals carefully reconstructed.
The work is not an "history" book in my view but more of an "exploration of an alternative history to put future actions into perspective" book. In the end, is this book a compelling argument that there was a real alternative to a war between the states to resolve the secession and to end slavery? No, in my opinion. Marvel himself admits it as he wraps up the book. However, it is an interesting "what if?" account to reflect upon and may be more useful, to us as a nation, for the future.