The Flannery O'Connor Library

St. Pius X Catholic High School

All the powers of Earth

973.7 BLU

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All the powers of Earth : the political life of Abraham Lincoln, 1856-1860

Blumenthal, Sidney, 1948-, author.

New York : Simon & Schuster, 2019

xxii, 758 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.

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"After a period of depression that he would ever find his way to greatness, Lincoln takes on the most powerful demagogue in the country, Stephen Douglas, in the debates for a senate seat. He sidelines the frontrunner William Seward, a former governor and senator for New York, to cinch the new Republican Party's nomination. All the Powers of Earth is the political story of all time. Lincoln achieves the presidency by force of strategy, of political savvy and determination. This is Abraham Lincoln, who indisputably becomes the greatest president and moral leader in the nation's history. But he must first build a new political party, brilliantly state the anti-slavery case and overcome shattering defeat to win the presidency.

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Editorial Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly.
In this overstuffed, but vivid and intelligent, third entry in his planned five-volume exploration of Abraham Lincoln's political life, Blumenthal (Wrestling with the Angel) surveys the pre--Civil War American political scene. Readers may be surprised that Lincoln barely enters the narrative until it's about a quarter through; Blumenthal focuses on context, exploring the political contention around the expansion of slavery that resulted in Southern representative Preston Brooks violently attacking abolitionist senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. When Lincoln's story picks up again, he has not held elected office in nearly 10 years; he reenters the political spotlight with bold antislavery speeches, such as his famous "A House Divided," and the dramatic 1858 debates with incumbent Illinois senator Stephen Douglas. All this leads to national attention and eventually the Republican presidential nomination. Blumenthal conveys his impressive research in literary style, drawing on well-framed and -chosen excerpts from primary sources for a fast-paced and evocative result, but includes too many biographical sketches of minor historical players. Despite that, this is an entertaining, Wolf Hall--esque treatment that will please Blumenthal's fans and win new ones to this series. (Sept.)

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Review by Library Journal.
In this third volume of his magisterial life-and-times study of Abraham Lincoln (1809--65), Blumenthal (A Self-Made Man) again provides rich context, telling vignettes, and probing examinations of the interests and behavior of the leading men of Lincoln's day. Although Lincoln himself does not much appear in the first part, and the supporting cast of Stephen A. Douglas and others receive their due, this is, overall, about Lincoln's political genius. Blumenthal is especially perceptive in exegeting the speeches that filled Congress in an age when oratory was a principal means of expressing and effecting ideas and policies. The author makes a strong case for Lincoln as a political innovator, at once saving both his standing in the Republican Party and the party from conceding its principles for seeming immediate advantage. Blumenthal's Lincoln is a man of principle and pragmatism, committed to antislavery but insistent on moving belief into policy amid convulsive politics and contesting ambitions. VERDICT In all this, Blumenthal speaks to our own time and, through Lincoln's life and work, asks us to consider what price expediency and ego cost democracy. Brilliant, compelling, and memorable. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]--Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia

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Review by Booklist.
As he probes behind the legend that poet Carl Sandburg forged in his Pulitzer-winning, six-volume biography of Lincoln, Blumenthal is, volume by volume, bringing into view the real man: a courageous statesman but also an adroit politician. With painstaking research illuminated by penetrating insight, Blumenthal limns the ascent of the Great Emancipator in a turbulent era. Readers see this small-town Illinois lawyer catch the eye of prominent journalists in his 1858 senatorial debates with Stephen Douglas as he skewers his Democratic opponent for the moral bankruptcy of his support for the Dred Scott decision, which restricts the founders' vision to one race, and for the political confusion in his popular sovereignty doctrine, which kindles mob warfare between Kansas' pro-slave and anti-slave factions. Blumenthal shows how Lincoln's incisive rhetoric reorients the new Republican Party, which abandons longtime favorite William Seward to rally behind the Railsplitter, unexpectedly giving him the party's 1860 presidential nomination. Readers will recognize Lincoln's integrity in his unwavering condemnation of slavery as an evil institution, though they will see why in his desire (ultimately vain) to hold a divided nation together Lincoln repudiates John Brown and other violent abolitionists. The brilliance of this third volume of Blumenthal's projected five-volume biography will heighten expectations for the next installment.--Bryce Christensen Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.

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