You would be justified if you thought there are too many books about the Civil War & about Lincoln. I believe there are more books about Lincoln than there are about any figure in the western canon. So I looked askance at yet another one. Since I had read 2 other excellent volumes by Foner, including one I highly recommend about reconstruction, I took the dive.
Foner has produced something unique here. He has followed the line of the history of antebellum racism and thought about slavery, in general, and Lincoln's thoughts and actions about it in particular. There may not be anything 100% new in the book, but the way it is all put in one place, chronologically and with ample evidence, is what makes it a valuable addition to history.
Lincoln was both a man of his time and a professional politician. That has to be the starting point for any discussion of his views and actions about slavery in the United States. As Foner makes clear, Lincoln always had an abhorrence of slavery and unpaid servitude in general. Which does not mean he was not a racist by our 21st century standards. Lincoln was not the most anti-slavery man, or politician of his time ... had he been so, we would not know his name today, because he never could have become so prominent in politics nor become president.
Foner's accomplishment is to show how Lincoln's views changed over his career. From someone not terribly concern about slavery (in the 1840s, for instance) but still against it, to someone increasing concerned about it (in the 1850s) but mainly in the context of territorial expansion, to someone who gradually recognized it as the central cause of the war between the states. Along the way, Lincoln did drag along some of his cherished (and now repudiated) ideas, like the idea of colonization (which he held until late in his presidency in some fashion). And a habit of demeaning blacks in his manner of talking (like using the n-word and telling jokes). Highly recommended.
Probably not. A whole book on a subject, including a comedy book, suits my taste better. These stories were of variable quality. A few hilarious, a couple just awful, very please when I got to the end. The narration of all the stories, excellent though. Sorry to sound like a curmudgeon on this volume.
Very entertaining audio book for Princess Bride aficionados. People who haven't seen the movie wouldn't get it. It is largely from Cary Elwes point of view, but others -- the director, producer, screenwriter, & most of the players have greater & smaller roles (& have speaking parts. The book is a little uneven, with sections that are fall down funny, just interesting & a few portions that seem like filler. But altogether it is an enjoyable listen.
This book is a new interpretation of the U.S. antebellum period that powerfully combines the reality of slavery, the economics of the internal slave trade, international trade & the industrial revolution (first in the UK and later in New England), financial innovation & speculation, and banking. Baptist is able show how absolutely central slavery was to the American economy in the 19th century, north and south.
The sections that described how southern cotton planters & their overseers actually industrialized manual cotton cultivation to achieve a tripling and quadupling productivity in the field.
The narrator is outstanding, he does well with great written material.
The author successfully combines "modern" detective stories from the 19th, 20th & 21st centuries, archeological, linguistic & literary; with an approachable guide to the history of written language (focusing on cunieform); and the evolution of biblical literature (focusing on the Noah story, but not only that). The writing & the narration, excellent. I was so sorry when the book was over, I wanted to hear more.
Yes eventually. Very moving history book.
In the latter portion of the book, when Pasternak, his family & his mistress family were being unjustly persecuted by the Soviet state & it's corrupt literary hierarchy I got very mad.
Just a terrific book of political & literary history. Very moving & impossible to put down.
endlessly stimulating & entertaining
While I have not read the hard-cover, it seemed like just the kind of lighthearted book I would like read to me, rather than having to read it.
Very enjoyable book of humor spiced with brushes by the protagonist with real events & famous leaders of the 20th century.
Yes, I would listen to it again or, better yet, read the book on my Kindle.
Excellent, multi-faceted, multi-character set of stories, all linked together from the Iraq war. Very well written & well narrated.
Terrific book, a micro-history of the Virginia Chesapeake region, slavery, and the War of 1812. The author does a very skillful job providing the context from the American points-of-view, the historical background for both the slavery elements and the War. Taylor then provides a fascinating, blow-by-blow narrative of the War of 1812 in the region, one you can understand very well because of the context he has already served up. I thought the book was going to be mostly about slave escapes, and it is, but without the background that portion would be adrift.
I thought Bronson Pinchot's narrative approach was perfect for a history book. No need for a narrator or narration with different voices or with lots of up & down emphasis. This is a history, not a drama. I am going to seek out more of the books he's narrated for Audible.
This was a very promising book. I am very interested in Moynihan, the time period (through which I lived), US-Israel relations, the United Nations. Perfect ingredients for an entertaining & intellectually-satisfying book. The book is well-written in the sense that the vignettes and anecdotes it contains are generally well-written (if a bit biased at times, or at least lacking the analytical breadth to understand the position of the "other side"). But the book seems disorganized, perhaps more so because it is an audiobook and not a hard-bound one. But I suspect both suffer from a weak outline and from the absence of a strong editorial hand. I enjoyed parts of the book as I went along, and I suppose it could be satisfying on those grounds alone. But I am sure there are better treatments of Moynihan (e.g., biographies) and I know there are better ones on US-Israel relations, the UN in the 1970s & 1980, dealing with the egomaniacal Kissinger and so forth. There are a couple of highly-rated Moynihan books on Amazon (Audible's parent), although not in audio form. I am going to try one of those next.I am sorry I could not give this book a stronger review.
Doris Kearns Goodwin is a terrific narrator, and does a good job relating the sweep of history and how her various characters fit into the sweep (and influence the sweep as well). With respect to Taft & Roosevelt, and especially the latter, there is not a lot of new information here, but it is the "how" of the narration that is new, the connecting of the dots between the two of them, and between them & the history of the US that is novel here.
It would be impossible and indeed undesirable to read this in just one sitting, it is a sprawling story, in the way Kearns Goodwin tells it. And it is better to take smaller bites over a longer period, to appreciate the story.
A strength of this book and indeed of all of this author's books, is her strength as a narrator. A weakness is the absence of analysis. And, often, along with that lack, the portrayal of the protagonists with a substantial deemphasis of their flaws. Not so much their flaws as people but the flaws of their policies.
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