Lincoln’s incredible ascent to power in a world of chaos is newly revealed in this “compelling, original, and elegantly written” (Michael Beschloss, New York Times bestselling author) third volume of the “magisterial” (The New York Times Book Review) Political Life of Abraham Lincoln series, following A Self-Made Man and Wrestling with His Angel.
After a period of depression that he would ever find his way to greatness, Lincoln takes on the most powerful demagogue in the country, Stephen Douglas, in the debates for a senate seat. He sidelines the frontrunner William Seward, a former governor and senator for New York, to cinch the new Republican Party’s nomination.
All the Powers of Earth is the political story of all time. Lincoln achieves the presidency by force of strategy, of political savvy and determination. This is Abraham Lincoln, who indisputably becomes the greatest president and moral leader in the nation’s history. But he must first build a new political party, brilliantly state the anti-slavery case and overcome shattering defeat to win the presidency. In the years of civil war to follow, he will show mightily that the nation was right to bet on him. He was its preserver, a politician of moral integrity.
All the Powers of Earth is “as essential as any political biography is likely to be” and Sidney Bluementhal is “the definitive chronicler of Lincoln’s political career” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
In this overstuffed, but vivid and intelligent, third entry in his planned five-volume exploration of Abraham Lincoln's political life, Blumenthal (Wrestling with the Angel) surveys the pre Civil War American political scene. Readers may be surprised that Lincoln barely enters the narrative until it's about a quarter through; Blumenthal focuses on context, exploring the political contention around the expansion of slavery that resulted in Southern representative Preston Brooks violently attacking abolitionist senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. When Lincoln's story picks up again, he has not held elected office in nearly 10 years; he reenters the political spotlight with bold antislavery speeches, such as his famous "A House Divided," and the dramatic 1858 debates with incumbent Illinois senator Stephen Douglas. All this leads to national attention and eventually the Republican presidential nomination. Blumenthal conveys his impressive research in literary style, drawing on well-framed and -chosen excerpts from primary sources for a fast-paced and evocative result, but includes too many biographical sketches of minor historical players. Despite that, this is an entertaining, Wolf Hall esque treatment that will please Blumenthal's fans and win new ones to this series. \n