Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

A Lincoln Dialogue

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

A Lincoln Dialogue

Article excerpt

A Lincoln Dialogue. By James A. Rawley. Edited by William G. Thomas. (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2014. Pp. [xii], 585. $49.95, ISBN 978-0-8032-4996-7.)

James A. Rawley was an important historian until his death in 2005, and even now, his books are still read with favor. He has an Organization of American Historians prize named after him for the best monograph written on the history of race relations, another prize from the American Historical Association for the best book in Atlantic history before the twentieth century, and a Southern Historical Association prize for an outstanding book on the secession crisis.

A Lincoln Dialogue was completed by Rawley, submitted to the University of Nebraska Press, reviewed by outside readers, and then forgotten when he died. William G. Thomas, the last member of the University of Nebraska's history faculty that Rawley welcomed to the department, heard about the manuscript, worked with others on its resurrection, silently made editorial changes where necessary, and saw it forward to publication.

The book is neither a monograph nor an edition of Abraham Lincoln's and his contemporaries' words. It is a combination of both approaches. Rawley wrote a commentary on and an introduction to the statements of Lincoln and other Civil War personages who are quoted extensively in the text. The result is an insightful historian presenting his ideas within the context of prose from 1861 to 1865 that guides the reader into knowledge of Lincoln and the crucial years he served as president.

Some readers will appreciate this approach; others will not. Even more specifically: some will learn from this book, while others will find the cited quotations to be overlong and drawn out. …

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