The Fiery Trial by Eric Foner
Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

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Synopsis

“A masterwork [by] the preeminent historian of the Civil War era.”—Boston Globe


Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth.
 

About Eric Foner

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Eric Foner is the pre-eminent historian of his generation. Foner is highly respected by historians of every stripe-whether they specialize in political history or social history. His books have won the top awards in the profession, and he has been president of both major history organizations-the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. He has worked on every detail of Give Me Liberty!, which displays all of his trademark strengths as a scholar, teacher, and writer. A specialist on the Civil War/Reconstruction period, Foner regularly teaches the 19th century survey at Columbia University, where he is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History. His latest trade title, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, won numerous awards including the Lincoln Prize, Bancroft Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.
 
Published September 26, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 465 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Fiery Trial

Kirkus Reviews

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In the 1850s, Lincoln re-entered politics by identifying containment of the “peculiar institution’s” westward expansion as “the lowest common denominator of antislavery sentiment.” Foner is particularly impressive in explaining the hesitations, backward steps and trial balloons—including placatin...

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The New York Times

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A Columbia professor tackles what would seem an obvious topic, Lincoln and slavery, and sheds new light on it.

Sep 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Linc...

Publishers Weekly

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Columbia historian and Bancroft Prize winner Foner (Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men) traces the complexities of Lincoln’s evolving ideas about slavery and African-Americans: while he detested slavery, he also publicly rejected political and social equality for blacks, dragged his feet (critics ...

Aug 02 2010 | Read Full Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Linc...

The Wall Street Journal

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'The hallmark of Lincoln's greatness was his capacity for growth," says Eric Foner, in the keystone statement of "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery."

Oct 07 2010 | Read Full Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Linc...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Only fragments of the project were left behind when James died in 1989—and I doubt very much that Eric Foner had any of it in mind while writing The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, which is as painstaking and straightforward a book as James's would have been imaginative and idi...

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The New Republic

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Jan 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Linc...

The New Republic

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The New Republic

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Portland Book Review

… Yet as the presidency of his successor demonstrated, not all men placed in a similar situation possessed the capacity for growth, the essence of Lincoln’s greatness.” In attempting to locate Lincoln within a broader realm of antislavery thought, Foner considers not just what Lincoln has writte...

Apr 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Linc...

London Review of Books

Lincoln himself tried to return a black woman and four of her children into slavery in 1847, despite the fact that they had migrated to Illinois with the full consent of their owner, and had resided in freedom for at least two years.

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The New York Review of Books

But instead, he was one of only two representatives in the Illinois legislature who presented a public “protest” against a resolution passed in 1837 by their colleagues that condemned abolitionist doctrines of freedom and civil equality and affirmed the right of property in slaves as “sacred to t...

Nov 25 2010 | Read Full Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Linc...

Project MUSE

(Only in Lincoln studies can a 336-page book, with over 50 pages of notes, be labeled a "brief.") Foner's elegant analysis frames Lincoln within the context of the past half-century of scholarly revisionism.

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