Friday, May 27, 2016

Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power by Kevin Peraino

Part Of The Synopsis From Publisher:

This is the story of one of the most breathtaking feats in the annals of American foreign policy—performed by one of the most unlikely figures. Abraham Lincoln is not often remembered as a great foreign-policy president. He had never traveled overseas and spoke no foreign languages. And yet, during the Civil War, Lincoln and his team skillfully managed to stare down the Continent’s great powers—deftly avoiding European intervention on the side of the Confederacy. In the process, the United States emerged as a world power in its own right. 

Engaging, insightful, and highly original, Lincoln in the World is a tale set at the intersection of personal character and national power. The narrative focuses tightly on five distinct, intensely human conflicts that helped define Lincoln’s approach to foreign affairs—from his debate, as a young congressman, with his law partner over the conduct of the Mexican War, to his deadlock with Napoleon III over the French occupation of Mexico. Bursting with colorful characters like Lincoln’s bowie-knife-wielding minister to Russia, Cassius Marcellus Clay; the cunning French empress, Eugénie; and the hapless Mexican monarch Maximilian—Lincoln in the World draws a finely wrought portrait of a president and his team at the dawn of American power. 

Somehow in all the reading I've done on American Presidents, I've managed to skip over President Lincoln,  I've never read anything about him, including one of President Obama's favorite books, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I've read more about former First Ladies, than I've read about our 16th president.   I'm glad that with reading Lincoln in the World, that glaring oversight has been taken care of.

President Lincoln's foreign policy tends to be overshadowed by domestic policy in most school history books, which is understandable given the plethora of issue that gave rise to the Civil War. To be quite frank, I can't remember a thing from either high school or college on the subject., and that's assuming they even taught us anything about it, and that's highly doubtful. With Lincoln in the World, I was given a chance to not only learn the history of what took place during his administration, but it's given me some insight into some of the foreign policy issues that are still facing us today.

This could have been a dry, boring book, spouting off dates and names.  Instead, while it was meticulously researched and presented, it was engaging.  The author took a ton of information, and was able to not only condense it, but explain it in such a way that made me feel like Goldilocks.  Nothing was over my head, nothing was being dumbed-down to make me understand the implications of what I was reading, it was just right.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books, for this review.


bermudaonion said...

I've grown to love engaging non-fiction like this. Thanks for the review.

TracyK said...

In the last few years, I haven't read much non-fiction, but this does sound very good.