Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism by John Burt
Lincoln, Douglas, and Moral Conflict

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John Burt...has written a work that every serious student of Lincoln will have to read, although its sheer bulk alone — more than 800 pages — as well as the density of its prose may deter all but the most intrepid Lincolnophiles.
-NY Times

Synopsis

In their famous debates, Lincoln and Douglas struggled with how to behave when an ethical conflict like slavery strained democracy’s commitment to rule by both consent and principle. What conscience demands and what it can persuade others to agree to are not always the same. Ultimately, this tragic limitation of liberalism led Lincoln to war.
 

About John Burt

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John Burt is Professor of English at Brandeis University.
 
Published January 7, 2013 by Harvard University Press. 833 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Steven B. Smith on Feb 14 2013

John Burt...has written a work that every serious student of Lincoln will have to read, although its sheer bulk alone — more than 800 pages — as well as the density of its prose may deter all but the most intrepid Lincolnophiles.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Allen Guelzo on Feb 14 2013

He lucidly explains the complexities of such mysteries as the Toombs Bill...and catches in lapidary phrases the "magic spell" that colonization...was supposed to cast on slave-owners.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Taube on Apr 30 2013

Did tragic pragmatism, liberalism...shape this period in American history? Not to the extent Mr. Burt suggests, in my opinion. This hardly means his book isn’t worthwhile to read — and it’s definitely an interesting perspective to consider.

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