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Lincoln and the Fight for Peace

John Avlon



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Simon & Schuster
15 February 2022
A groundbreaking, revelatory history of Abraham Lincoln's plan to secure a just and lasting peace after the Civil War--a vision that inspired future presidents as well as the world's most famous peacemakers, including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a story of war and peace, race and reconciliation. As the tide of the Civil War turned in the spring of 1865, Abraham Lincoln took a dangerous two-week trip to visit the troops on the front lines accompanied by his young son, seeing combat up close, meeting liberated slaves in the ruins of Richmond, and comforting wounded Union and Confederate soldiers.

The power of Lincoln's personal example in the closing days of the war offers a portrait of a peacemaker. He did not demonize people he disagreed with. He used humor, logic, and scripture to depolarize bitter debates. Balancing moral courage with moderation, Lincoln believed that decency could be the most practical form of politics, but he understood that people were more inclined to listen to reason when greeted from a position of strength. Ulysses S. Grant's famously generous terms of surrender to General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox that April were a direct expression of the president's belief that a soft peace should follow a hard war.

While his assassination sent the country careening off course, Lincoln's vision would be vindicated long after his death, inspiring future generations in their own quests to secure a just and lasting peace. As US General Lucius Clay, architect of the post-WWII German occupation, said when asked what guided his decisions: I tried to think of the kind of occupation the South would have had if Abraham Lincoln had lived.

Lincoln and the Fight for Peace reveals how Lincoln's character informed his commitment to unconditional surrender followed by a magnanimous peace. Even during the Civil War, surrounded by reactionaries and radicals, he refused to back down from his belief that there is more that unites us than divides us. But he also understood that peace needs to be waged with as much intensity as war. Lincoln's plan to win the peace is his unfinished symphony, but in its existing notes, we can find an anthem that can begin to bridge our divisions today.
Imprint:   Simon & Schuster
Dimensions:   Height: 231mm,  Width: 155mm,  Spine: 33mm
Weight:   544g
ISBN:   9781982108120
ISBN 10:   1982108126
Pages:   368
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

John Avlon is a senior political analyst and anchor at CNN. He is an award-winning columnist and the author of Independent Nation, Wingnuts, and Washington's Farewell. Previously, he was the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast and served as chief speechwriter for the Mayor of New York during the attacks of 9/11. He lives with his wife Margaret Hoover and their two children in New York.

Reviews for Lincoln and the Fight for Peace

Avlon is a master of the art of finding the universal in the particular. He sheds new light on the most tangled questions of our history, not least the tragedy of Reconstruction. With its graceful prose and wise insights, this is an important and absorbing contribution to the literature of the American Presidency. -- Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Truth is Marching On Brilliantly illuminates the enduring legacy of America's greatest president. With erudition and elegance, Avlon documents how Lincoln's sage political wisdom has helped democracy flourish. Avlon's exquisite storytelling provides a goldmine of actionable wisdom for our troubled times. Highly recommended! -- Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University and author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race A stunning accomplishment, and an essential reminder that the Civil War - the most important event in our country's history - is very much part of who we are as a people and a nation today. -- Ken Burns, Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker

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