It has seemingly reached a point that Abraham Lincoln should be deified like some Roman Emperor of old. It is rare to find a book that has much to say negative about the 16th president, and most books that are highly negative of Lincoln prove to be either poor scholarly efforts or to have some ideological ax to grind. Now, after all the glory Lincoln has received after the 200th anniversary of his birth several years ago and the recent Spielberg film, here comes former Newsweek correspondent Kevin Peraino to inform of us that not only was Lincoln the hand on the tiller that guided us through the Civil War, but he was also one of our greatest foreign policy presidents to boot!
But damned if Peraino isn’t right. As he illustrates in his new book Lincoln in the World, the circuit riding lawyer with no international experience proved to be a true genius in dealing with foreign affairs. His natural patience and cool headedness kept America from running afoul of either other nations or bringing them into our internecine conflict via diplomatic recognition of the rebellious South. Peraino’s book is an extremely welcome addition to the Lincoln corpus as it focuses on many of Lincoln’s non-Civil War policies.
Anything more than a cursory reading of Lincoln’s speeches and writings indicate that he held an extremely optimistic and exciting view of America’s future and her potential place in the world. Peraino’s book should give us a window into a little examined portion of President Lincoln’s time in office. Early reviewers of Lincoln in the World – such as dean of Civil War historians James Mcpherson and Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham – certainly seem to share the excitement. This is the first of two books Kevin Peraino is under contract to right for Crown publishing, and here’s hoping the second one has as much potential as Lincoln in the World appears to.