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Publisher's Summary

The clashes between President Abraham Lincoln and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney over slavery, secession, and Lincoln's constitutional war powers went to the heart of Lincoln's presidency. Lincoln and Taney's bitter disagreements began with Taney's Dred Scott opinion in 1857, when the chief justice declared that the Constitution did not grant the black man any rights that the white man was bound to honor. Lincoln attacked the opinion as a warped judicial interpretation of the Framers' intent and accused Taney of being a member of a pro-slavery national conspiracy.
In his first inaugural address, Lincoln insisted that the South had no legal right to secede. Taney, who administered the oath of office to Lincoln, believed that the South's secession was legal and in the best interests of both sections of the country.
Once the war began, Lincoln broadly interpreted his constitutional powers as commander-in-chief to prosecute the war, suspending habeas corpus, censoring the press, and allowing military courts to try civilians for treason. Taney vociferously disagreed, accusing Lincoln of assuming dictatorial powers in violation of the Constitution. Lincoln ignored Taney's protests and exercised his presidential authority fearlessly, determined that he would preserve the Union.
James F. Simon skillfully brings to life this compelling story of the momentous tug-of-war between the president and the chief justice during the worst crisis in the nation's history.
©2006 James F. Simon (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Surprisingly taut and gripping....a dramatic, charged narrative." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By D. Littman on 11-25-06

a rehash without much new

Any book about Lincoln or the Civil War, taking whatever angle, is bound to have a good deal of rehash of material many of us already know, even if you are not an inveterate Civil War buff. What makes these kinds of books intriguing is the new perspectives authors can bring to the reader, and on occasion new material as well. This volume does bring some new material to light on Taney in particular, little on Lincoln, and none on the Civil War itself. It does not provide a good legal analysis of the Dred Scott decision, nor other Taney legal/career events prior (or during the War, re: habeas corpus), and does not succeed in the author's promise to thoroughly explore the relationship between Lincoln & Taney (or perhaps it does, there wasn't much of a relationship as a matter of fact).

The reader has a nice voice, but did not do his homework with respect to some terms & some names. He mispronounces place names & last names with irritating frequency, which is unfortunate. It detracts from what is otherwise quite a listenable exposition.

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16 of 17 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By H S Kinder on 08-08-10

Poor Chief Justice Taney

How could a jurist be so wrong about the course of history. Chief Justice Taney's use of his office to attempt to derail the inevitable march of history toward the abolition of slavery is truly remarkable. As a consequence, he will forever be regarded, and properly so, as the worst Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The book provides a scholarly historical insight into the Court's role before and during the Civil War and is well worth reading/listening. One negative is the narrator. One would hope that both the narrator and editior would familiarize themselves with the proper pronunciation of the names of key characters in the narrative. He consistently mispronounced General McClellan's name calling him McCleeeeeland. He also mispronounced General Buell's name referring to him as General Bwell. I recommend this book to all student's of Civil War history.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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