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Publishers WeeklyThis meticulous triple biography looks at Lincoln's three private secretaries, John Nicolay, John Hay and William O. Stoddard. Closer to Lincoln than almost anyone else, these trusted confidantes and advisers handled all of the president's correspondence, acted occasionally as spies and, between Nicolay and Hay, penned the most famous "authorized" biography of Lincoln. Though their experiences in Lincoln's administration cast a poignant, personable light on the great president's working life, Epstein's work is far from accessible. The level of detail regarding the three secretaries is exhaustive beyond the interest of anyone but devoted American history scholars. Author and historian Epstein (Lincoln and Whitman, The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage) has intimate knowledge of his subjects but little to drive the story beyond the chronological push of history; meandering from man to man, his narrative isn't cohesive enough to hook casual history readers. Though obsessive Lincoln enthusiasts in search of a new perspective may be fascinated, any number of Lincoln books will offer casual history buffs a more engaging examination.
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