President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman

President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman

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The American president has come to be the most powerful figure in the world—and back in the nineteenth century, a great man held that office. William Lee Miller's new book closely examines that great man in that hugely important office: Abraham Lincoln as president.

Wars waged by American presidents have come to be pivotal historical events. Here Miller analyzes the commander in chief who coped with the profound moral dilemmas of America's bloodiest war.

In his acclaimed book Lincoln's Virtues, Miller explored Abraham Lincoln's intellectual and moral development. Now he completes his "ethical biography," showing the amiable and inexperienced backcountry politician transformed by constitutional alchemy into an oath-bound head of state, slapped in the face from the first minute of his presidency by decisions of the utmost gravity and confronted by the radical moral contradiction left by the nation's Founders: universal ideals of Equality and Liberty and the monstrous injustice of human slavery.

With wit and penetrating sensitivity, Miller shows us a Lincoln with unusual intellectual power, as he brings together the great themes that will be his legend—preserving the United States of America while ending the odious institution that corrupted the nation's meaning. Miller finds in this superb politician a remarkable presidential combination: an indomitable resolve, combined with the judgment that keeps it from being mindless stubbornness; and a supreme magnanimity, combined with the discriminating judgment that keeps it from being sentimentality. Here is the realistic war leader persisting after multiple defeats, pressing his generals to take the battle to the enemy, insisting that the objective was the destruction of Lee's army and not the capture of territory, saying that breath alone kills no rebels, remarking that he regretted war does not admit of holy days, asking whether one could believe that he would strike lighter blows rather than heavier ones or leave any card unplayed. And here is the pardoner, finding every excuse to keep from shooting the simple soldier boy who deserts. Here too is the eloquent leader who describes the national task in matchless prose and who rises above vindictiveness and triumphalism as he guides the nation to a new birth of freedom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400156399
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2008
Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

William Lee Miller, Scholar in Ethics and Institutions at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, is the author of Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography.

Lloyd James has been narrating since 1996, has recorded over six hundred books in almost every genre, has earned six AudioFile Earphones Awards, and is a two-time nominee for the prestigious Audie Award.

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From the Publisher

"One of the most insightful accounts of Lincoln published in recent years." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

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President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read a great deal about Lincoln, especially during this anniversary year. For that reason, I was hesitant to purchase another biography. I was delighted to find new information and insights into the life of this great man.
estamm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book perhaps more than 'Lincoln's Virtues'. I enjoy Lincoln books that focus on specific events and discuss those events in detail, and this book does just that. I think I still enjoyed 'Honor's Voice' more, but this is a worthy read, and an excellent follow-up to Miller's first book. I highly recommend this.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miller endeavors to examine ¿the moral performance of Abraham Lincoln¿ as president. Therefore, as the author explains, the book is only indirectly about Lincoln¿s statesmanship and more about his moral conduct in office. He is also careful to distinguish (as Lincoln himself did) choices Lincoln made in fulfillment of his oath of office from those he might have made based on his personal predispositions.It¿s an interesting perspective in one sense, because, as Miller observes, many politicians have had more political experience than Lincoln but ¿A fool or knave can rise through many eminent positions and still be a fool or knave.¿ So Miller wants to show how Lincoln excelled in spite of his lack of experience, because he had such a strong moral fiber. My biggest criticism with this book is that it reads more like a billet doux than a history. It is overly reverential: Lincoln may have taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, but Miller seems to have taken the same oath vis-a-vis Lincoln. He repeatedly characterizes Lincoln as ¿decisive,¿ ¿steadfast¿ tenderhearted,¿ ¿resilient,¿ ¿resolute¿ ¿ a lot of adjectives making the basic point of ¿strong yet gentle.¿ On the other hand, the author lashes out at McClellan, who treated Lincoln with contempt. [But how could one not appreciate the line ¿Vanity, rudeness, and malice were not, however, McClellan¿s most distinctive vices as a commander¿¿]My other complaint is that the prose is anachronistically florid. Not only does Miller hijack and recycle many of Lincoln¿s own familiar phrases (¿mystic chords,¿ ¿mighty scourge¿ and so on), but he also interjects his own overly dramatic prose. He refers to ¿the golden thread of magnanimity and generosity that would wind its way through his presidency.¿ He makes reference to events that ¿would ring forever thereafter in American memory¿ and provide ¿stories forever.¿Those criticisms aside, the book contains some interesting observations and analyses. In attempting to justify Lincoln¿s very hesitant stance on the abolition of slavery, Miller does a thorough job of detailing the tenuous positions of the border states, and how essential it was for the viability of the Union for Lincoln to hold on to them. He also includes an interesting theory of how the Emancipation Proclamation ¿ so legalistic and even exclusionary ¿ came to be seen as a great document of liberation. The Proclamation did not set all the slaves free, but only those in the Confederacy, over whom Lincoln did not have any control. In fact, Miller charges, it was white Southerners who, greatly exaggerating the document¿s import out of fear and hyperbole, conveyed a much more momentous significance to this decree. Their indiscriminate condemnations reached into the slave community, convincing blacks that northerners wanted them liberated. Great waves of escaped slaves thus attached themselves to invading northern armies, much to the chagrin of the latter who then had to care for them.Lincoln, for his part, continually protested that if he could save the Union without freeing any slaves he would do so. However, when he thought the North was losing the war and that he would not be re-elected, he encouraged the great black freed man Frederick Douglass to familiarize slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves who had made their way behind Union lines by war¿s end could stay out of bondage.Immense changes took place during Lincoln¿s time in office. When he began as President, the U.S. Army totaled just over 17,000 men and just over 1,000 officers. When war was declared, one-third of the officers promptly resigned and joined the Confederacy. There were significant defections in civilian departments as well; ninety employees in the War Department alone resigned. Confusion and corruption characterized the early days of the Administration. Lincoln¿s generals in the field made their own policies, sometimes in direct contradiction to Lincoln¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sounds interesting to me because i love reading about history and the presidents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This may be better to read than to listen to. Several passages seemed to go on for an eternity. We got the point, move on. The sections on his relationship with Civil War generals, pardoning prisoners and plotting re-election are engaging. The parts that other reviewers call "nuanced" were, to me, overbearing. Do people proofread/prooflisten these? President Martin Van Buren was called Warren Van Buren.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago