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Morris (editor, Military Heritage magazine; The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War) argues that in Illinois Lincoln and Douglas grew up, legally and politically, pitted one against the other. The Democrat Douglas often got the better of the Whig Lincoln at the ballot box, though Lincoln won often in court-and in courting Mary Todd. Morris sees westward expansion and race as coming to define their contests. Douglas advocated majority rule, Lincoln individual rights as the bedrock of a free people. Lincoln proved a formidable foe on the legal circuit because of his skills and friendships and his recognition of the moral dimension of the slavery question. This dual biography helps us understand that the Lincoln-Douglas debates had both personal and political dimensions. Morris gives Douglas his due, but ultimately his book does not move beyond Allen Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas, which argues that the debates obliged both men to reckon the meanings of democracy, liberty, and America. Morris does not much change established thinking. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
—Randall M. Miller