Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief

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by James M. McPherson
     
 

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author reveals how Lincoln won the Civil War and invented the role of commander in chief as we know it As we celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, this study by preeminent, bestselling Civil War historian James M. McPherson provides a rare, fresh take on one of the most enigmatic figures in American history. Tried by War offers a… See more details below

Overview

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author reveals how Lincoln won the Civil War and invented the role of commander in chief as we know it As we celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, this study by preeminent, bestselling Civil War historian James M. McPherson provides a rare, fresh take on one of the most enigmatic figures in American history. Tried by War offers a revelatory (and timely) portrait of leadership during the greatest crisis our nation has ever endured. Suspenseful and inspiring, this is the story of how Lincoln, with almost no previous military experience before entering the White House, assumed the powers associated with the role of commander in chief, and through his strategic insight and will to fight changed the course of the war and saved the Union.

Editorial Reviews

Jean Edward Smith
James M. McPherson's Tried by War is a perfect primer, not just for Civil War buffs or fans of Abraham Lincoln, but for anyone who wishes to understand the evolution of the president's role as commander in chief. Few historians write as well as McPherson, and none evoke the sound of battle with greater clarity. There is scarcely anyone writing today who mines original sources more diligently. In Tried by War, McPherson draws on almost 50 years of research to present a cogent and concise narrative of how Lincoln, working against enormous odds, saved the United States of America.
—The New York Times
Michael F. Bishop
In Tried by War, James M. McPherson agrees that Lincoln was America's finest commander-in-chief but convincingly argues that this status was achieved only after exhaustive study and heartbreaking setback…McPherson shows that Lincoln was a diligent student of military affairs and a shrewd judge of men. He immersed himself in works on strategy obtained from the Library of Congress and soon recognized the limitations of his commanders. His increasingly direct involvement in military matters and his eventual appointment of Ulysses S. Grant as general-in-chief led ultimately to victory…Tried by War supersedes Lincoln and His Generals as the definitive portrait of Lincoln as war leader
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Given the importance of Lincoln's role as commander-in-chief to the nation's very survival, says McPherson, this role has been underexamined. McPherson (Battle Cry of Freedom), the doyen of Civil War historians, offers firm evidence of Lincoln's military effectiveness in this typically well-reasoned, well-presented analysis. Lincoln exercised the right to take any necessary measures to preserve the union and majority rule, including violating longstanding civil liberties (though McPherson considers the infringements milder than those adopted by later presidents). As McPherson shows, Lincoln understood the synergy of political and military decision-making; the Emancipation Proclamation, for instance, harmonized the principles of union and freedom with a strategy of attacking the crucial Confederate resource of slave labor. Lincoln's commitment to linking policy and strategy made him the most hands-on American commander-in-chief; he oversaw strategy and offered operational advice, much of it shrewd and perceptive. Lincoln may have been an amateur of war, but McPherson successfully establishes him as America's greatest war leader. (Oct. 7)

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Kirkus Reviews
A leading Civil War authority assesses Lincoln's performance as head of the Union armed forces. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian McPherson (This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War, 2007, etc.) notes that Lincoln studies have examined nearly every aspect of his administration except his constitutional role as commander in chief of the armies opposing secession. The author proceeds chronologically, beginning with Lincoln's election, at which point the secession of several Southern states immediately confronted him with the decision of whether to let them go or take action to restore the Union. His first instinct was to calm passions; several speeches given before his inauguration show him reassuring his listeners that he has no intention of abolishing slavery, and that he will use force against the South only if the seceding states give him no other option. The scenario at Fort Sumter demonstrated the necessity of force, and subsequent events-especially the attack on Union troops passing through Baltimore-presented him with several other difficult choices. Finding a way to keep border states loyal was a key decision. So was finding a commander for the Union forces. Winfield Scott, the senior U.S. general, was opposed to an invasion of the South, as were several cabinet officers. Lincoln's first choice, George McClellan, proved insufficiently active and suspicious of the president's intentions. McPherson follows the course of the war, quoting from original documents, including private letters and diaries, to show the evolving strategy that led to the ultimate Union victory. The decision to abolish slavery was fundamentally strategic and political-as much as humanitarian-in itsintentions. Lincoln's determination to restore the Union became stronger as the war progressed, and Southern attempts to buy peace at some lesser price were rebuffed. McPherson's portrait of the commander in chief is brilliantly detailed, full of humanizing touches, and it provides fresh insight into his unparalleled achievement. Fluid and convincingly argued-one of the best Lincoln studies in recent years. For more information about Lincoln's relations with the Navy, see Craig L. Symonds's forthcoming Lincoln and His Admirals (2008).
Library Journal
01/01/2015
McPherson proves that Lincoln succeeded in rallying and sustaining support for the Civil War and emancipation because he understood that military action serves national interest and recognizes political needs, that personal interest gives way to public service, and that leadership demands imagination, honesty, and courage. (LJ 9/1/08)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440652455
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/07/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
324,259
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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