Friday, February 15, 2013

Glowing Book Review in New York Times

In this weekend's book section, the Grey Lady offers a glowing book review of a new volume considering Abraham Lincoln as a moral philosopher.  The book, Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism: Lincoln, Douglas, and Moral Conflict was published by Harvard's Belknap Press in December.  Written by John Burt, a professor of English at Brandeis University (who appears to have rather broad academic interests), the 800+ page book revisits 1858 debates between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, evidently filtered through the moral philosophy lens of more recent thinkers like John Rawls.

The review by Steven Smith, a political science professor at Yale, positively compares Burt's tome to the classic 1959 study of the debates by Harry Jaffa, Crisis of the House Divided.  He then goes on to show how each book draws upon different philosophers in considering the arguments of Lincoln and Douglas.

While this book may not be for everyone, those who are seriously interested in Lincoln's political arguments and intellectual legacy would seem to be a natural audience for this book.  And the strong review suggests that it will be well worthwhile.

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