Lincoln Observed: The Civil War Dispatches of Noah Brooks

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During the Civil War, few outside Abraham Lincoln's immediate circle of family, friends, and advisors had as much access to the president as young California journalist Noah Brooks, who first met Lincoln in Illinois. As the Washington correspondent for the Sacramento Daily Union during the Civil War, Brooks met with Lincoln nearly daily between 1862 and 1865 and was privy to many of the president's decisions and thoughts. Brooks's dispatches, letters, and personal reminiscences -- collected here for the first ...

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Overview

During the Civil War, few outside Abraham Lincoln's immediate circle of family, friends, and advisors had as much access to the president as young California journalist Noah Brooks, who first met Lincoln in Illinois. As the Washington correspondent for the Sacramento Daily Union during the Civil War, Brooks met with Lincoln nearly daily between 1862 and 1865 and was privy to many of the president's decisions and thoughts. Brooks's dispatches, letters, and personal reminiscences -- collected here for the first time by noted Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame -- offer an intimate portrait of Abraham Lincoln himself as well as an engrossing account of life and politics in wartime Washington.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Posted to Civil War-era Washington as correspondent for the Sacramento Daily Union, Noah Brooks (1830-1903) enjoyed unprecedented access to President Abraham Lincoln, whom he had known well in Illinois and with whom he shared a close friendship. Indeed, at the time of the assassination, Brooks was slated to leave journalism and become Lincoln's personal secretary. Brooks's memoir Washington in Lincoln's Time (1895) did not reprint any of the journalist's original, candid wartime observations of Lincoln as published in the Daily Union. Here, Connecticut College historian Burlingame (The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln) salvages these important dispatches for posterity, providing a riveting day-to-day insider's view of Lincoln's dealing with important personalities and issues. A keen observer and a gifted writer, Brooks offers a uniquely informed and finely crafted portrait of Lincoln in his daily interactions with generals, cabinet members, foreign diplomats, family and friends. An obvious supporter of Lincoln, Brooks portrays the president as a tough and savvy leader. Editor Burlingame supplements the dispatches with a number of Brooks's letters from the period, as well as his brief but moving essay written shortly after the assassination titled "Personal Recollections of Lincoln." Where Brooks's official memoir was somewhat stilted and lionizing, these contemporary pieces are forthright, objective and useful. (June)
Booknews
This collection of wartime dispatches, selected letters, and personal reminiscences, written by a journalist who met with Lincoln daily during the last two and a half years of the Civil War, offers an intimate portrait of Lincoln and an insider's account of Washington during the Civil War. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
The turbulent, even toxic political atmosphere of Washington is contrasted with the deep humanity and political wisdom of Abraham Lincoln in these revealing reports of a Civil War journalist. Noah Brooks (1830þ1903), a native New Yorker who first met Lincoln in the 1850s while the two lived in Illinois, began reporting on Washington for the Sacramento Daily Union in 1862. His Washington in Lincolnþs Time (1895) is considered a classic memoir of the era, but until now his earlier writings about Lincolnþdispatches, letters, and personal reminiscencesþhad not been collected. Brooksþs open admiration for the president (þA nobler and purer nature than his never animated manþ) may astonish readers used to contemporary journalistsþ aspirations toward objectivity. But Brooksþs closeness to Lincoln (who offered him a position as private secretary just before his murder) also enabled the journalist to write with certainty of the presidentþs views, even to the point of having Lincoln approve quotes. The resulting portrait is striking: Lincoln as a stump speaker who overcomes a homely first impression with piercing logic and sharp humor; a president reacting with rage over losses by timorous generals; a politician grown visibly careworn by shameless office seekers, importuning citizens, and the need to stay in an unprecedentedly bloody war. Besides the vivacity of his character sketches of Lincoln, Brooksþs work was also remarkably versatile, including what would now be seen as þinside-the-Beltwayþ accounts of California politicians in the capital, reports on the Democratic National Convention and Congress in session,and colorful vignettes of citizens besieging Lincoln at inaugural levees, rejoicing in the fall of Richmond, and mourning the fallen president. Burlingame (History/Connecticut Coll.; The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln, not reviewed) ably and unobtrusively clarifies references to people and events well known to Brooksþs contemporaries but not a century later. Not the least bit dispassionate, but highly evocative eyewitness history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801858420
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Pages: 291
  • Product dimensions: 8.79 (w) x 5.86 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Noah Brooks (1830-1903) was a journalist and editor who worked for newspapers in Sacramento, San Francisco, Newark, and New York. Michael Burlingame is the May Buckley Sadowski '19 Professor Emeritus of History at Connecticut College, author of The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln, and editor of An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln and Inside Lincoln's White House, among other books.

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