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McPherson shows, again, why he is widely regarded as being the foremost historian of Civil War history By this point, you would think authors would have run out of things to write about in the life of Abraham Lincoln, but McPherson identified a shortcoming in the historiography Numerous books have been written about Lincoln s life, political choices and speeches, but there has been little systematic coverage of his decisions as a military leader This book helps fill in that gap in a way that will appeal to specialist and novice historians Disappointing the book offers far too much linear, chronological narrative, and far too little thematic analysis of Lincoln s performance, his decisionmaking, and his evolution as a wartime commander in chief This is an adequate work of introductory popular history, but there is little here of any value to anyone who is even glancingly familiar with Lincoln s presidency or the conduct of the Union war effort On the plus side, the book does offer a surprisingly sympathetic, though still devastating, portrait of Gen McClellan, a figure who has too often been portrayed in Civil War scholarship as a simplistic caricature of abused hero or villainous scoundrel to score points one way or another on matters of strategy and policy But as soon as McClellan s military service ends, so too does the author s interest in him, and we are offered very little analysis, or even description, of McClellan as presidential candidate, or of how facing McClellan affected Lincoln s political and command decisionmaking. This book, well written, is authored by the eminent historian James McPherson The focus is plainly stated at the outset Page xiv In the vast literature on our sixteenth president, however, the amount of attention devoted to his role as commander in chief is disproportionately smaller than the actual percentage of time he spent on that task Lincoln s own military experience was slender, his 1832 service in the militia However, as McPherson puts it Page 5 , he was.a hands on commander in chief than any other president He assumed or presided over five war making functions in declining order of importance, as the author judges matters policy, national strategy, military strategy, operations, and tactics McPherson observes that Lincoln read a great deal about military issues, to become informed and to develop grounding in strategy and tactics Indeed, as the book argues, he needed to, since so many of his military leaders were passive and did not take charge Thus, the thesis of this book makes sense, given the context of the times while Lincoln served as president The book covers the war, year by year, Lincoln s frustrations with his military commanders, his desire to find someone who had it, the will and ability to triumph, to share Lincoln s vision of what had to be done Of course, in the end, U S Grant and his subordinates, such as Sherman, Sheridan, and Thomas played that role, after the years of failure with the likes of Buell, Halleck, Rosecrans, Sigel, Banks, Butler, and so on For those not so familiar with the Civil War, this book will be most useful For those steeped in the study of the Civil War, there is not a great deal that is new However, what such readers know is put into useful context, as per the book s focus So, in the end, this is a handy volume, especially for those who are not deeply read in the relevant works For those well read on the subject, of less interest. Tried by War Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief is James McPherson s 2008 biography focused on Lincoln s role as the nation s chief military strategist and tactician during the Civil War McPherson is a historian, Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University and a prolific author His most notable work is Battle Cry of Freedom the standard one volume history of the Civil War for which he received a Pulitzer Prize in 1989.In the book s preface, McPherson asserts that most Lincoln related literature pays disproportionately less attention to Lincoln s role as commander in chief than is deserved based on the time he devoted to that task This, it seems, is his rationale for authoring Tried by War And as promised, rather than writing yet another biography of Lincoln s life, McPherson spends all 270 pages focused on Lincoln s presidency with the substantial majority focused on his prosecution of the war.Notwithstanding his claim, the majority of the almost nine thousand pages I ve read on Lincoln the past three months excluding chapters focused on Lincoln s youth was spent reviewing, discussing, and analyzing Lincoln s role as commander in chief But while I found McPherson s justification for writing this book somewhat spurious, I was undeniably interested to experience this renowned Civil War historian s perspective on a presidency consumed by war.Happily, the book s pace as well as the author s insight into Lincoln s management of the war are terrific Tried by War is easy to read and understand, and proves consistently informative and entertaining Where some Lincoln oriented biographies become bogged down in dull explanations of war tactics or troop movements, this book appears calibrated for a younger, less patient audience.However, little about McPherson s book is truly unique Given the author s background, I expected deeper analysis and a richer, robust interpretation of Lincoln s actions during the war Although McPherson frequently demonstrates his mastery of the subject, broad swaths of the commentary are superficial and breezy And while the book contains new information concerning some of Lincoln s military leaders and a few battles, none of it is important enough to alter the complexion of Lincoln I ve gleaned from other biographies.Readers seeking special insight into the war s great battles, or overall military strategy, will also be disappointed Although Tried by War is not intended as a Civil War primer and makes no attempt to supplant the excellent Battle Cry of Freedom McPherson s focus is almost exclusively on Lincoln and his management of the war The Battle of Gettysburg, for example, is dispatched in just two sentences.Rather than writing a potent, fresh study of Lincoln s life from an unconventional perspective it almost seems as though McPherson has taken a standard six or seven hundred page biography of Lincoln and condensed it dramatically by removing Lincoln s pre presidency and a great deal of the interaction with his mercurial cabinet members Rather than seeing Lincoln from a new perspective, I simply saw Lincoln from only one perspective Interesting though that perspective was, I find found the book limiting rather than revealing.Overall, James McPherson s Tried by War is an educational and entertaining book best suited for readers already acquainted with Lincoln who seek incremental insight into his management of the Civil War For readers looking for a comprehensive cradle to grave analysis of Lincoln s life and presidency, this book is clearly less appropriate But for its intended purpose, Tried by War is usually satisfactory and sometimes extremely satisfying.Overall rating 3 stars Billed as one of the few Lincoln studies to focus on the 16th President as Commander in Chief, the book really offers little new information I had hoped to learn much about what shaped Lincoln s military thinking For example, his trips to the Library of Congress to study strategy and tactics are legendary But what did he study Who were his confidants and mentors How did he develop the suggested strategies he gave to his generals, especially early in the war, and how might we evaluate those strategies None of these questions is addressed in Tried by War Instead, the author offers simply a restatement of familiar Civil War history, omitting many important details under the stated purpose of focusing on the commander in chief Not a satisfying read for the experienced Lincoln Civil War scholar and not a good choice for the novice either. Both Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War have seen countless books devoted to them, from general biographies or histories to entire books focused on single speeches by Lincoln or single battles of the war So, the idea of a book narrowly focused on Abraham Lincoln in his role as Commander in Chief is a good one, with a great deal of potential to take a unique view of Lincoln and the war Unfortunately, in James M McPherson s 2008 volume Tried by War Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, he doesn t really live up to the potential of the premise, instead delivering what reads like a general history of the Union war effort.McPherson opens with setting up five main ideas about what a Commander in Chief has to be responsible for Unfortunately, I can t recall what the five things are, since McPherson then completely forgets to mention them not even so much as a Lincoln s decision with X addressed Goal Y until the epilogue It s just sloppy writing Without calling back to the five main points he went to such lengths to detail in the opening, McPherson seems to drift in his narrative and doesn t really get back to the premise of the book.What McPherson gives us is a fairly general account of the Civil War from the Union side He honestly doesn t even seem very focused on Lincoln He spends a great deal of time in the field with the cavalcade of Union generals and in the thick of various fights But those don t really have anything directly to do with Lincoln, much less his role as Commander in Chief Detailing how Lincoln made his decisions about the war would be what I m expecting, but that s not what we get Reading time after time how each Union general before Grant screwed up I can do with pretty much any Civil War history.Even though it s a general biography of Lincoln, I found David Herbert Donald s Lincoln to be much better at the stated goal of Tried by War than Tried by War is The approach Donald took was to look only at what Lincoln knew when making his decisions Donald never goes to any battlefields in his biography, save for when Lincoln himself occasionally visited the Army of the Potomac After all, the specifics of what happened when the battles started were out of Lincoln s hands All Lincoln could be responsible for were the commands he gave the generals, not how those generals carried them out McPherson really could have benefited from taking this same approach It would have provided much focus to Tried by War and kept the book to its stated premise, instead of getting bogged down as badly as McClellan leading the Army of the Potomac.McPherson doesn t really seem to evaluate Lincoln s decisions when he does talk about them, either Until the epilogue, there s no mention of whether or not Lincoln s suspicion of Habeas Corpus was justified or necessary, or any discussion of if his choices for general in chief could have been better, for example For a book that is supposed to be evaluating Lincoln as Commander in Chief, those issues need to be the central conversation, not simply confined to the epilogue.I listened to Penguin Audio s 2009 recording of Tried by War, read by George Guidall Guidall was adequate, but had issues The main problem with his reading is that he uses a single voice Even though Tried by War is a history and not a novel and doesn t have characters per se, you still need to be able to hear the difference when something is being quoted I could forgive Guidall for not inventing voices for Lincoln, McClellan, et al, but he should have still had a consistently identifiable tone for quotes He would sometimes have a certain inflection when a quote started, but not always, and it was hard to tell at times when the quote ended and McPherson picked up, because there was no closing inflection The audio production runs approximately 9.5 hours.Tried by War is a perfectly solid history of the Union effort in the Civil War Unfortunately, it aimed to be so much than that, and made no real effort to reach its own stated goal McPherson missed a chance for a really great book here. Enjoyed this than I thought I might I ve always been interested in Lincoln even before the recent Obama related surge but never been much of a Civil War buff The book gave a great chronological sketch of the various leadership styles and strengths not just of Lincoln but other important players Discussions include McLellan, Grant, Lee and other well know historical generals and other principals Highly recommended for those intersted in seeing the various sides of Lincoln i.e not just the principled leader but also the occasioanally sullen, challenged and driven president who presided over one of the toughest parts of American history. NOVEL THOUGHTS 3.5 Tried by War was a unique perspective which is hard to do since the Civil War and the events leading up to it, during it and after it, have been written about in so many genres, it seems to me to be hard to find a new viewpoint of looking at it However, McPherson found a way to provide a fresh take on this subject by showing the way that Lincoln took a direct approach to his role as Commander in Chief Though the book was a bit boggy at times for my personal taste since the author spoke often of casualties at various battles and how long it took for troops to get from here to there, the information presented was nonetheless painstakingly researched That General McClellan on paper looked like the man for the job of General in Chief, his ineptitude was staggering and it seemed to me to be part of the reason the war lasted longer than it needed to The author hypothesizes that McClellan s own personal political feelings for the Democrats and that of slavery may have contributed to his inadequate command But what struck me was that Lincoln let McClellan lead for as long as he did in order to have a better chance to win the White House for a second term Think of all the lives lost because of that decision Was it justified in order to continue the course of abolishing slavery for good or was there a selfish reason One other aspect of the book that could have improved the reader s knowledge of Lincoln was that while he studied a lot about the strategies of war, the author did little to demonstrate how Lincoln arrived at some of the strategies that he did and while they are by and large completely ignored by his generals in the field, he really was onto something It wasn t until he got Grant, Sherman, Thomas and Sheridan later in the war, did he see his strategic picture of offensive attacks realized Up until 1864, his generals chose blatantly to ignore whatever ideas he had, and who knows how much better the war would have gone for the Union had they at least considered his plans As a Civil War tome, the reader will make some takeaways that have always been presumed, for instance, that the Battle of Gettysburg was the defining moment of the war in fact, this doesn t appear to be the case While the 16th president is probably best known for the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln s very active role as Commander in Chief seems to have defined the role for future Presidents involvement when the US goes to war. Mr McPherson has presented a very different view of the genius that was Lincoln Now known for his emancipation proclaimation, Lincoln did not advance freeing the slaves as his first priority during his administration Instead, his driving ambition was union, and he was willing to fight to save the Union.As the civil war progressed, the President and the Union Army suffered several discouraging losses and in fact were near defeat in 1862 3 As a military tactic, Lincoln first declared slaves as spoils of war, along with other southern property This allowed new army recruites as well as northern industry labor for the war effort Lincoln, always symphathetic to emancipation but realizing it was politically out of reach, now saw an opportunity to accomplish both victory and freedom By interpreting new constitutional powers for the Presidency never before exercised by prior Presidents, he skillfully led our nation through the devastating civil war years, preserving both the union and freeing the slaves These accomplishments place Lincoln at the very top of the list of US Presidents His attributes of intelligence, communication ability, sensitivity, and political shrewdness were highly complimented with his skill as Commander in Chief No other President has demonstrated this set of skills and Lincoln s success as our nations leader Reading McPherson s book will give anyone a new perspective of this great man This book receives my highest recommendation for your reading time. ^Free Ebook ↺ Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief ⇰ Amazing Books, Tried By War Abraham Lincoln As Commander In Chief Author James M McPherson This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book Tried By War Abraham Lincoln As Commander In Chief, Essay By James M McPherson Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You