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January 2015 Vol. 52 No. 5

University of Nebraska Press

The following review appeared in the January 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
History, Geography & Area Studies - North America

2014-02873 CIP
Rawley, James A. A Lincoln dialogue, ed. by William G. Thomas. Nebraska, 2014. 585p index afp ISBN 9780803249967, $49.95.

James Rawley (d. 2005) was one of the most influential Civil War historians of his generation, and his prowess as a historian is still evident today, as this posthumous work edited by William Thomas (Univ. of Nebraska) makes clear.  Rawley’s overarching history of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency encompasses the various trials and tribulations with which Lincoln had to contend.  Though debates on the military course of the war comprise the majority of the text, Rawley also provides extensive discussions of political, economic, and social debates, especially relating to emancipation, which drew Lincoln’s attention and ability to take decisive action.  What sets this book apart from other Lincoln biographies is Rawley’s application of appropriate, but not overwhelming, quotes from Lincoln’s writings and speeches to illustrate his decision-making process and justification for action.  The quotes reveal the inner turmoil generated by many of Lincoln’s decisions but also demonstrate a consistency in Lincoln’s actions.  Though critics heaped criticism on many of his policies, Lincoln held fast to his determination to uphold the Constitution as he defined it, aggressively pursue the war to a successful conclusion, and prepare the country for eventual reunification with minimal animosity.

--S. J. Ramold, Eastern Michigan University

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.