Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months that Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War

Todd Brewster. Scribner, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4516-9386-7
The man responsible for ending slavery, Abraham Lincoln, was neither a fiery abolitionist nor was he committed to racial equality. Journalist Brewster (In Search of America with Peter Jennings) zeroes in on the period from July 1862, when the main goal of the Civil War was the restoration of the Union, to January 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation elevated that goal to a higher moral purpose. Lincoln remained mindful of battlefield and political realities, constantly juggling his various critics: George McClellan, general-in-chief of the Union Army, advised against using the army as a weapon of emancipation while radical Republicans in congress pushed the president in the opposite direction with two pieces of legislation empowering the military to confiscate and free slaves in rebel territory. When Lincoln made up his mind, he drafted the preliminary document, read it to his cabinet, then waited for the right moment, after the bloody battle of Antietam, to make it public. Brewster brings elegant clarity to the tangle of conflicting ideologies, loyalties, and practicalities that pushed the proclamation forward, ultimately ensuring Lincoln’s legacy as the Great Emancipator. Illus. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/2014
Release date: 09/09/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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