“In the second volume of his biography of Abraham Lincoln, Blumenthal convincingly shows that Lincoln’s period in Illinois from 1849-56 was not resting and taking stock, but critically engaging with Stephen A.”
Featured in LA Times’ Best Non-Fiction Books of 2017.
Sidney Blumenthal’s first volume, A Self-Made Man, creates a broad and twisted counterpoint in the young life of Abraham Lincoln. Blumenthal extends that superb counterpoint in Wrestling with His Angel, giving us the best account we have of the big-screen context of Lincoln and the explosive political events during the decade he stepped on the front of the American stage. Blumenthal illuminates the path Lincoln hewed to greatness.
Being the former assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, Blumenthal in the second volume of his four-part Lincoln biography, immerses the reader in American politics in the years between Lincoln’s return to Springfield, after completing his term in the House of Representatives, and his contribution in founding the Illinois Republican Party.
In this second volume of his powerful biography, Blumenthal tells the story of Lincoln’s political self-fashioning in the 1850s, and his entrance onto the stage of history. In 1849, Abraham Lincoln seemed condemned to political isolation and defeat. His Whig Party is broken in the 1852 election and washes out. His chronic rival, Stephen Douglas, forges a collaboration with the Southern senators and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. A violent struggle breaks out on the plains of Kansas, which is presented as a prelude to the Civil War.
With strong expressive style and energetic narrative momentum, Blumenthal shows how Lincoln defined himself against his rival Stephen Douglas, learned how to become a persuasive speaker, fortified his intellectual opposition to slavery, and fought the anti-immigrant “Know-Nothing” party that was dominating American politics.
Blumenthal provides the broad and often vivid background of the age in which Lincoln lived, operated, practiced law, raised a family, and became a political genius.