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Lincoln's Virtues
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About the Author

William Lee Miller has taught at Yale University, Smith College, Indiana University, and the University of Virginia, where he is currently Miller Center of Public Affairs Scholar in Ethics and Institutions. He has been an editor and writer on a political magazine, a speechwriter, and a three-term alderman. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Arguing About Slavery, which won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress.

Reviews

Miller (Arguing About Slavery) recasts Lincoln's life as a lesson in political morality. Less biography than an extended essay on the process whereby Lincoln learned to think and act in moral terms, Miller's wide-ranging probe of the sources of Lincoln's thought and the character of his action on such topics as slavery, secession, party politics, family, and community explores what being a public man meant, up to the moment of Lincoln's inauguration as President. In Miller's hands, Lincoln emerges as a purposeful learner and thinker whose moral and political compass came from Scripture, Shakespeare, the law, and "the people," to whom he listened but never pandered. Miller's great contribution is showing that Lincoln's call to public service demanded an ethical stance and that he owed his success to his moral clarity on the issues of the day. Though readers will chafe at Miller's sometimes too precious arguments, obscure asides, and unabashed admiration of Lincoln, they will appreciate his insistence that politics must be a noble calling, as Lincoln would (and did) have it. Recommended for large public and academic libraries. Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

In a narrative that positions a careful analysis of Lincoln's life against his popular legend and "ritual celebration," University of Virginia historian Miller (Arguing About Slavery) provides an incisive and shrewd discussion of Lincoln's development as a person and a politician. If it is assumed from the outset that Lincoln was "a spectacularly wonderful man," Miller argues, it "may diminish our appreciation of the ways in which he may actually have become one." Thus Miller's project to chronicle man rather than myth is explicitly concerned with the evolution of Lincoln's character, motivations and ideals. Chronicling his rise from an Appalachian boyhood to the corridors of power, the author makes a host of wise observations about this "ungainly westerner" that are informed as much by Miller's considerable knowledge of human nature as by his study of Lincoln's utterances over the years. According to Miller, Lincoln's life was motivated by the desire to distance himself from his humble origins; though he may have begun as a young man of the people, he quickly sought a place among the intellectual and cultural elite that Thomas Jefferson had dubbed the "natural aristocracy." He never introduced his sons to his father and stepmother. He harbored an intense dislike for all forms of menial labor, and was displeased when campaign posters positioned him as a rail-splitter. In this same spirit, he despised the simple, petty bigotries common among the working classes of his day and eschewed the Know-Nothingism popular in the United States of the 1850s as being beneath him. It is this Lincoln's studied and cultivated aloofness from the banal Miller argues, that positioned him for greatness. (Jan. 22) Forecast: This brings a fresh and refreshing perspective that Lincoln devotees will appreciate. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Marvelous . . . Miller pursues [the] ever-intriguing interior Lincoln in his usual witty, reader-friendly, and conversational voice." -The Washington Post Book World "Compelling and readable." -The Wall Street Journal "A fascinating account, sensitively written, rich in insight, of the moral self-education of our greatest president." -Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. "By tracing the development of Lincoln's moral reasoning and his steadfast commitment to doing what he saw as right, Miller refutes convincingly any notion that Lincoln was an accidental politician who stumbled into the presidency."-St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Outstanding interpretative biography. William Lee Miller explores Lincoln's life and career from a unique perspective and helps us to better understand the man within the context of his times in his thoughtful, stimulating new book."-BookPage "Is it possible to say something new about Lincoln? The somewhat surprising answer, as William Lee Miller demonstrates in Lincoln's Virtues, is yes." -The New York Times Book Review "A useful addition to the library of Lincoln books because it tackles a familiar subject from an unusual angle, giving appropriate centrality to Lincoln's moral convictions." -Los Angeles Times Book Review "Miller offers a distinctly new view of the Great Emancipator." -The Christian Science Monitor "Lincoln's Virtues is an extraordinary book. . . . Miller proves that a lively presentation, animated by wit and humor, can co-exist with careful scholarship. The result is a new and surprisingly fresh look at the historical Lincoln." -Douglas L. Wilson "A captivating study . . . of Abe Lincoln's moral development." -Esquire "The depth of [Miller's] study is obvious. He presents his ideas with a youthful enthusiasm, leavened with . . . wisdom." -Providence Journal "I have digested this book completely now, and I think it the best book ever on Abraham Lincoln." -Fred J. Martin, Jr., member of the board, Abraham Lincoln Institute. "A fresh perspective on the man about whom more has been written than any other American." -North & South "Masterful. . . . Bill Miller exhibits the same cluster of worthy qualities he assigns to his subject -- penetrating insight, wisdom about human nature, tenacious purpose, a wonderful sense of humor, and an eloquent style of expression." -Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt "Miller's celebration of Lincoln's evolution as a moral man and a moral politician will persuade, reinforce, and inspire.... Very accessible and thought-provoking." -Arizona Republic "Lincoln's Virtues is unquestionably the most important study on Lincoln to appear in the last decade." -Steven Rogstad, Review Editor, Lincoln Herald

"One of the most innovative studies of the sixteenth president yet to emerge." -William C. Davis, History Book Club

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