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In his first book, McClintock insists, rightly, that in defining the secession crisis, the words of party leaders and of petitions, the press, and letters to the editors were of central import. How party leaders, especially Lincoln, understood and shaped the crisis created the constitutional and political framework for Northern responses. With deft strokes, McClintock describes the various competing concepts of union among Republicans, Democrats, and others and discovers that in the end they agreed that representative democracy must oppose disunion or else self-government itself would be lost. Lincoln used the power of patronage to secure his hand in managing the crisis and gained his own appreciation of the practicalities of not conceding a right to secession or, should war come, not firing the first shot, thus enabling Northerners to rally to a common love for the "union." More than any other scholar, McClintock incisively shows that in the end the North and Lincoln simply could not let the South go. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.
—Randall M. Miller