In LINCOLN, THE WAR PRESIDENT, no fewer than five Pulitzer Prize-winning historians - James McPherson, Carl Degler, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, David Brion Davis, and Robert Bruce - join eminent historian Kenneth Stampp and editor Gabor Boritt to offer a fresh look at how Lincoln confronted the central issues of the Civil War era, throwing sharp new light on the revolutionary changes he helped usher in. Kenneth Stampp explores the issue of self-determination, illuminating Lincoln's views and comparing the South's struggle for independence to others in history (including the post-Soviet situation in Eastern Europe). Arthur Schlesinger Jr, offers a provocative comparison of how Lincoln and our other outstanding war president, FDR, went beyond the limits of the Constitution in defence of the nation and freedom - as they understood them. David Brion Davis focuses on both the exhilarating moment of emancipation and its disappointing results.
Gabor Boritt traces Lincoln's transition from strident opponent of the Mexican War, to resolute war leader, ("Destroy the rebel army," were his terse orders) to speaking out for reconciliation (after Appomattox he exclaimed, "Enemies, never again must we repeat that word"). Carl Degler compares the Civil War as a successful attempt at true national unification with the unifications of Italy, Germany, and even Switzerland (which waged a fraternal war not many years earlier). Robert Bruce provides an incisive look at the premonitions of civil war that haunted the American republic since independence, including Lincoln's reluctance to accept war as a possibility. And James McPherson establishes once and for all Lincoln's brilliance as a national strategist. Historians have often criticized specific military decisions Lincoln made, McPherson writes, ignoring his grasp of an overall national strategy that calculated political, economic, and military needs together. These outstanding essays - all but one published here for the first tiem - offer a new understanding of a revolutionary epoch in American history, and of the role of the leader who helped transform the nation forever.