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“Compelling and readable.” –The Wall Street Journal
“A fascinating account, sensitively written, rich in insight, of the moral self-education of our greatest president.” –Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
“By tracing the development of Lincoln's moral reasoning and his steadfast commitment to doing what he saw as right, Miller refutes convincingly any notion that Lincoln was an accidental politician who stumbled into the presidency.”–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Outstanding interpretative biography. William Lee Miller explores Lincoln’s life and career from a unique perspective and helps us to better understand the man within the context of his times in his thoughtful, stimulating new book.”–BookPage
“Is it possible to say something new about Lincoln? The somewhat surprising answer, as William Lee Miller demonstrates in Lincoln’s Virtues, is yes.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A useful addition to the library of Lincoln books because it tackles a familiar subject from an unusual angle, giving appropriate centrality to Lincoln's moral convictions.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Miller offers a distinctly new view of the Great Emancipator.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“Lincoln’s Virtues is an extraordinary book. . . . Miller proves that a lively presentation, animated by wit and humor, can co-exist with careful scholarship. The result is a new and surprisingly fresh look at the historical Lincoln.” –Douglas L. Wilson
“A captivating study . . . of Abe Lincoln's moral development.” –Esquire
“The depth of [Miller’s] study is obvious. He presents his ideas with a youthful enthusiasm, leavened with . . . wisdom.” –Providence Journal
“I have digested this book completely now, and I think it the best book ever on Abraham Lincoln.” –Fred J. Martin, Jr., member of the board, Abraham Lincoln Institute.
“A fresh perspective on the man about whom more has been written than any other American.” –North & South
“Masterful. . . . Bill Miller exhibits the same cluster of worthy qualities he assigns to his subject — penetrating insight, wisdom about human nature, tenacious purpose, a wonderful sense of humor, and an eloquent style of expression.” –Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
“Miller's celebration of Lincoln's evolution as a moral man and a moral politician will persuade, reinforce, and inspire.... Very accessible and thought-provoking.” –Arizona Republic
“Lincoln's Virtues is unquestionably the most important study on Lincoln to appear in the last decade.” –Steven Rogstad, Review Editor, Lincoln Herald
“One of the most innovative studies of the sixteenth president yet to emerge.” –William C. Davis, History Book Club
|Preface: The Moral Preparation of a Great Politician||xi|
|Chapter 1||Who Is This Fellow? He Is Smarter Than He Looks||3|
|1.||A Startling Disparity||3|
|Chapter 2||Noble Rage||26|
|1.||Young Lincoln's Great Rejections||26|
|2.||The Lifeline of Print||44|
|Chapter 3||He Will Be Good--But God Knows When||54|
|1.||Poor Man, Free Man, Free Moral Agent||54|
|2.||He Studied with No One||57|
|3.||Tom Lincoln and His Boy||59|
|4.||The Awkward Age of Goodness||62|
|5.||A Name That Fills All the Nation and Is Not Unknown Even in Foreign Lands||67|
|Chapter 4||I Want in All Cases to Do Right||71|
|1.||Humor in His Composition||71|
|2.||Not a Rebel, Not a Revolutionary||74|
|3.||The Gem of His Character||76|
|4.||Be Emulous to Excel||79|
|5.||Something More Than Common||82|
|6.||No More Scoffing||83|
|7.||A Poetry in His Nature||86|
|Chapter 5||Was This Man a Politician?||92|
|1.||Worthy of Their Esteem||92|
|2.||A Political Career||95|
|3.||A Free People Divide into Parties||99|
|4.||The Party of National Improvement||106|
|Chapter 6||Rising Public Man||116|
|1.||Why This Vote?||116|
|2.||Don't Shoot Editors||129|
|3.||Hail, Fall of Fury!||140|
|4.||They Are as We Would Be||147|
|5.||The Three Whigs from the Seventh, or, Honorable Maneuvering||153|
|Chapter 7||Another President, Another War||164|
|2.||Politically Suicidal Nonprinciple?||171|
|Chapter 8||Politics and Morals||192|
|1.||The Congressman as Moralist (and Political Operative)||192|
|2.||The Congressman as Political Operative (and Moralist)||209|
|3.||The Same Hatred of Slavery||212|
|4.||Shall These Things Be?||216|
|5.||The Vocation of a Politician||221|
|Chapter 9||Thunderstruck in Illinois||231|
|1.||The Senate Acts and Lincoln Decides||231|
|2.||Fugitives, the Law, and the Principle||234|
|3.||No Man Is Good Enough to Govern Another Man||240|
|4.||Lincoln Reads Douglas's Opponents||243|
|5.||A Self-Evident Lie?||245|
|Chapter 10||I Shall Try to Show That It Is Wrong||252|
|2.||Just What We Would Be in Their Situation||255|
|4.||Men Are Not Angels but They Have a Sense of Justice||263|
|5.||The Spirit of '76||267|
|6.||What Was He Doing?||269|
|Chapter 11||Our Duty as We Understand It||273|
|1.||If Slavery Is Not Wrong, Nothing Is Wrong||273|
|2.||How to Make a Strong Moral Argument Without Being Moralistic||286|
|Chapter 12||The Worthy Work of Party-Building||298|
|1.||A Point Merely Personal to Myself||298|
|2.||Following His Own Advice||316|
|Chapter 13||Not So Much Greater Than the Rest of Us||325|
|Chapter 14||Lincoln's Defense of Our Common Humanity||340|
|1.||Douglas's Assault on Lincoln's Egalitarianism||340|
|2.||The Modern Assault on Lincoln's "White Supremacy": Some Considerations||353|
|3.||On Lincoln's Moral Composition||363|
|4.||Lincoln Attacks the Imbruting of Black America||368|
|Chapter 15||Such an Impression||375|
|1.||Mental Culture in New York||375|
|2.||The Hugeness of Slavery||384|
|3.||How Did This Man Ever Become President?||391|
|4.||The Candidate of Moral Argument||397|
|5.||Lincoln for President||401|
|Chapter 16||The Man with the Blue Umbrella||406|
|1.||A Very Poor Hater||406|
|2.||The Great Reaper Case||410|
|3.||The President Appoints a Secretary of War||418|
|Chapter 17||Let Grass Grow Where It May||427|
|1.||Once a Friend and Still Not an Enemy||427|
|2.||Here I Stand||433|
|3.||The Union Is Unbroken||442|
|Appendix 1||Reflections on Two War Presidents||457|
|Appendix 2||The Election of 1860 "Thrown Into the House"||465|
|Notes and Sources||469|
Posted April 11, 2009
You've heard tales of how a book, movie or album "changed my life." I won't go quite that far, but when I look back on where some of my core beliefs changed for the better, this book was the pivot.
1) History had always seemed remote and abstract, never personal. Lincoln's Virtue's showed how the epic events that changed the course of American History pivoted on an individual's beliefs; beliefs struggled with and refined over time. Beliefs and struggles not unlike my own (only much grander in scale). Prior to this book, I had little interest in reading history, now it's a genre I prefer.
2) All Politics is bad. All Politicians are corrupt. The very process taints. Understanding and learning about politics is an ill pursuit. Lincoln's Virtues shows that Lincoln was in an elite class of masters of political intrigue and manipulation, yet remained true to his Principles accomplishing Great Things. While current politics is still nasty, dirty, and corrupt, it is not without hope. Politics is still a primary avenue for achieving Good things, knowing how to play politics is vital and not necessarily damning.
3) In our quest for personal growth, our moral and spiritual growth, we are beset by doubt, setbacks, and the ever-present question of "what actions do I, must I, take to further my growth?" Lincoln's Virtues gives us a powerful inspiring example of one person's struggle and growth, and the actions he took, on perhaps the grandest of stages with the greatest of consequences. This book may forever leave you, when faced with politcal, government, or bureaucratic decisions, to ask yourself "What Would Lincoln Do?"
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Posted April 11, 2010
The author analyzes specific incidents in Lincoln's life - both personal and political - that demonstrate the development of his character. The information is not all new, but the take on how each choice shaped him is unique. Miller writes well for the most part, but often rambles to paragraph-length sentences that are difficult to follow. He's clearly a smartypants, I'm not sure why he feels the need to beat that into the reader's head with unnecesary verbiage.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 23, 2009
A wonderful reminder of what a truly great and compassionate man Lincoln was. This book provides an insightful and intriguing look at how, from childhood, Lincoln knew right from wrong. The stories and examples of his benevolence, generosity, and sense of fairness are heartwarming and are woven into most of Lincoln's actions later in life. You understand, as you read, that Lincoln was blessed with an enormous amount both love and respect for life. Not just human life, but all life. If you are a lover of Lincoln this book is a reminder, from the perspective of pure virtue, why you are. There is a lot of Zen in Lincoln; The ability to pay attention and the deepest sense of kindness and compassion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 12, 2003
In this ethical biography of Abraham Lincoln, William Lee Miller reveals to us an extraordinary human being--not the one made of stone or marbel, but the flesh and blood of human stuff made possible by a short lifetime of differentiation, maturation, and human understanding. Miller's research is impeccable! In fact, it's fair to say that William Lee gets into Abe's skull: one notices a sort of 'sicpassim' throughout the narrative as Miller analyzes Lincoln's trek through life, from his early, carefree, unconscious days at Knob Creek, to the work-a-day anxiety of the (Civil War) Whitehouse. Miller gives us a look at Lincoln's roots; his family--his role in that family; his almost suprahuman innate sense of justice as he interacts with neighbors and friends; his intellectual capacities given his 'lack' of education; his political ambitions; his management/leadership style; and, last but not least, Miller synthesizes the numerous component parts of pivotal events into an intimate (and fascinating) portrait of a young, 'Gawky' back woods boy who grows, and matures into the most dynamic political force ever witnessed by ALL Americans. Miller demostrates Lincoln's ability to focused on issues fundamentally right and/or wrong, as those moral absolutes apply to manumission, organic nationhood, equality under the law, and popular democracy. Miller's posit that Lincoln's life (and death) changed America, and her core values, forever more are right on. Miller's analysis of Lincoln's virtues are as clear and objective, as they are insightful and meaningful (especially as they relate to Lincoln's achetypal references to the Declaration of Independence). Miller's style is fluid -- almost like poetry. The text is well organized, and packed with notes. If you want to know about the man, Abraham Lincoln -- the human being, with all his warts, all his human-ness, all about the brilliance of intellect, heart and soul that is his alone, then pick up William Lee Miller's book on Lincoln's Virtues.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 18, 2003
William L. Miller has made a decisive contribution by explaining to his audience how Abraham Lincoln became who he was by examining his words and deeds from his humble beginning in the Midwest to his ascendancy to the post of Commander-in-Chief in the nation's capital. Miller progressively helps his readers discover or rediscover how Lincoln's intellectual strength, tenacity and self-control developed over time made up the man who eventually became a legend after dying tragically at the apex of his destiny. To his credit, Miller does not turn Lincoln into a Saint. On the contrary, Miller paints a balanced portrait of a man who had to make compromises without losing sight of the big picture while embarking on what would ultimately become the fight of his life. Lincoln, the pragmatist, knew that even most of his allies were not ready to embrace full equality of all men and women born in this nation overnight. Like the builders of Rome, Lincoln needed time to build a case that would convince both foes and friends to become truthful to both the letter and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln's premature removal from the national political scenery quickly ushered the nation back in an era of wasted opportunities to advance the cause of an egalitarian, tolerant and multicultural society that reflects the enduring greatness of this country. The legacy of Abraham Lincoln remains today as relevant as it was at his death in 1865. Many men and women still live in political, social and/or economic bondage around the world. Developing responsible democracy and capitalism and then exporting these precious assets to the rest of the world remains in the interest of the United States of America. That endeavor has been one of the most profitable investments that the country has ever done.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 24, 2009
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Posted October 31, 2010
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Posted March 25, 2009
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