cover image The Day Lincoln Lost

The Day Lincoln Lost

Charles Rosenberg. Hanover Square, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-335-14522-2

This thought-provoking alternate history from Rosenberg (The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington) centers on the 1860 presidential race. In August of that year, real-life abolitionist Abby Kelley Foster arrives in Springfield, Ill., Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, where Lucy Battelle, an enslaved 12-year-old, is being held. The girl escaped from Kentucky a month earlier, was captured in Illinois, and now, pursuant to the Fugitive Slave Act, is about to be handed over to the man claiming her as his property. After a speech in which Abby encourages action to free Lucy, some of the townspeople do just that. President James Buchanan, who’s opposed to Lincoln succeeding him, arranges for Abby to be charged with violating the Fugitive Slave Act in an effort to force Lincoln to take a stand on whether he’d pardon her if he wins the election. Whichever side he takes, Lincoln is sure to alienate a significant number of voters. Rosenberg keeps the suspense high as the results of Buchanan’s scheming plausibly play out. This well-researched, character-driven page-turner deserves a wide readership. Agent: Erica Silverman, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)