The Age of Lincoln is one of the most compelling and finely nuanced cultural histories of period. A master story teller, Burton weaves poignant stories of individuals and events that open up the complexity and texture of the period. Burton wonderfully captures the tensions created by slavery and freedom, territorial expansion and sectional conflict, economic realities and spiritual needs. Through deft portraits of individuals and events, he brings to life for the reader the promise of democracy, freedom, emancipation and Reconstruction as well as the horrors of war, Klan violence, lynchings, unchecked capitalism, and segregation.
Burton has the ability to explain complex social, economic and cultural tensions in elegant yet fast-paced prose. Perhaps the best example of this is his chapter on Reconstruction. I have not read a better or more cogent account of the Reconstruction era in one chapter. Burton takes a very complex historical era and makes it very clear and understandable without diminishing the complexity. This is a much needed book for our age since it helps us to understand the knotty and convoluted development of the American character and culture, woven from elements of both North and South, spiritual and commercial ventures, labor and agrarian unrest, immigration and industrialization.
If you want to understand Lincoln and enjoy a great narration, get this book.
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