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Chandra ManningIn a critical essay entitled "The Great Secession Winter," Henry Adams portrayed an ill-prepared Lincoln concealing his ineptitude between the election in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861 behind a strategy of "masterly inactivity." While almost everyone, then and since, has stressed "inactivity," Harold Holzer shifts the emphasis to "masterly," arguing that Lincoln navigated that treacherous winter with principled leadership…Lincoln President-Elect emphasizes Lincoln's early greatness and the public's cluelessness, perhaps to the point of overkill. It sets up a static view of Lincoln that diminishes his growth and plays down the quality he most valued: his ability to start from, but then urge forward, public opinion. Yet as they are swept up in this magnificently told story, readers may rethink how Lincoln handled the eve of the nation's greatest crisis, in which case a little exaggeration is a small price to pay.
—The Washington Post