The following is an excerpt from my column “Lincoln ate my homework” published in the Charleston City Paper on Feb. 20th, 2008:
“When the Charleston City Paper asked me to review a new book on Abraham Lincoln, President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman by William Lee Miller, I thought it’d be a hoot. It’s never been a secret that I take a decidedly different view from the mainstream on Lincoln, and it was safe to assume that my well advertised hatred for our 16th president had something to do with the request.
I made it to page 6 the first time I threw the book down. After reading that Lincoln did not “nurse grudges” or “hold resentments” (he most certainly did), that he was “graceful” and “humane” (exactly who did General Sherman report to?), and that he “resisted the temptation to engage in moral posturing,” (Lincoln invented moral posturing in American politics), the following line sent me over the edge: “(Lincoln) was reported to have more sympathy with the suffering of his fellow creatures than was really advantageous in a ruler — not only for lost cats, mired-down hogs, birds fallen out of the nest, but also for his fellow human beings.” By page 7, Lincoln might have sprouted fairy wings, but I never made it that far.
No other American historical figure is treated like this.”
Indeed. Writes Gene Kizer in today’s Post and Courier (4/27/08):
“The title of this book leaves one puzzled as to how a politician who presided over the bloodiest war in American history, in which there were more than a million casualties (700,000 deaths out of a population of 33 million), could be called a “statesman.” It would seem that a real statesman would have averted such a catastrophe.
William Lee Miller’s “President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman,” is fawning hagiography drawn from selected “episodes in President Lincoln’s story.” The book is a gushing lovefest, and it has serious problems as a history text.”