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If Lincoln was famous for reading aloud from joke books, Guelzo shows that he also plunged deeply into the mainstream of nineteenth-century liberal democratic thought. Guelzo takes us on a wide-ranging exploration of problems that confronted Lincoln and liberal democracy--equality, opportunity, the rule of law, slavery, freedom, peace, and his legacy. The book sets these problems and Lincoln's responses against the larger world of American and trans-Atlantic liberal democracy in the 19th century, comparing Lincoln not just to Andrew Jackson or John Calhoun, but to British thinkers such as Richard Cobden, Jeremy Bentham, and John Bright, and to French observers Alexis de Tocqueville and François Guizot. The Lincoln we meet here is an Enlightenment figure who struggled to create a common ground between a people focused on individual rights and a society eager to establish a certain moral, philosophical, and intellectual bedrock. Lincoln insisted that liberal democracy had a higher purpose, which was the realization of a morally right political order. But how to interject that sense of moral order into a system that values personal self-satisfaction--"the pursuit of happiness"--remains a fundamental dilemma even today.
Abraham Lincoln was a man who, according to his friend and biographer William Henry Herndon, "lived in the mind." Guelzo paints a marvelous portrait of this Lincoln--Lincoln the man of ideas--providing new insights into one of the giants of American history.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Josh Morgan on 05-15-16
Fabulous writing, audio was a bit distracting
Allen C. Guelzo gets to what matters most, in my opinion: the intellectual mind. All details in the book serve the purpose of displaying and unearthing the ideas of Lincoln.
What gave me trouble was not the text but the audio. The narrator took deep breaths before moving on to his next words. I wish he would have taught himself about to breath and speak at the same time. As someone with ADHD, I had some fixated trouble as I continued on with the audio. But don't let that detract you too much. I would just rewind it and listen again if I felt the need.