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Thomas B. Allen’s expertise in military history and strategy is combined with Roger MacBride Allen’s knowledge of technology to reveal a lesser-known yet fascinating side of the 16th president of the United States. Their authoritative narrative reveals Lincoln as our nation’s first hands-on commander in chief, whose appreciation for the power of technology plays a critical role in the North’s Civil War victory over the less-developed South.
We meet Lincoln as he exchanges vital telegraph messages with his generals in the field; we witness his inspection of new ship models at the navy yard; we view the president target shooting with the designer of a new kind of rifle; and we follow Lincoln, the man of action, as he leads a daring raid to recapture Norfolk, Virginia. The book’s historic sweep also sets Abraham Lincoln in the context of his military era: We learn about the North’s Anaconda Plan and the South’s counter strategies and how the concept of total war replaced the old Napoleonic way of fighting. Listeners will come away with a rich sense of a leader who lived through one of the most exciting ages of technological and social change in America. Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War brings alive a time when the railroad brought soldiers to and from the battlefields, when hot-air balloons were used for surveillance, and when ironclad warships revolutionized naval warfare.
The technical analysis is a little fleeting, repetative and rarely in detail. There are some well done summaries of major events in the American Civil War and the analysis on the use of balloons was genuinely illuminating.