Lincoln's Boys (Joshua Zeitz) - Viking - 2014 - 390 pages

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the first Republican president, and for most his term, he was a war president.  After his sudden death by the gun of an assassin, there were several authors who sold Lincoln biographies but none of these compared to the thoroughly-researched, ten-volume work (Abraham Lincoln: A History) published in 1890 by President Lincoln's secretaries John George Nicolay (1832-1901) and John Milton Hay (1838-1905).  Author Zeitz follows Nicolay and Hay from their earliest contact with Lincoln through the presidential terms and the aftermath.  Written from the eyes and letters of two men with the highest regard for ethics and accuracy, this volume presents an excellent account of the time.  Although many Southern writers have tried to put a more positive spin on the questions of slavery and recession, Zeitz puts the record straight with direct evidence from the past.  Hay's quote from 1865 about the causes of the Civil War is quite instructive: "... it is now universally understood, if not conceded, that the Rebellion of 1861 was begun for the sole purpose of defending and preserving to the seceding States the institution of African slavery and making them the nucleus of a great slave empire."  It is also understood that Lincoln's Boys belongs on the shelf of every United States history buff alongside the best of our history books.  [JAM 11/30/2014]