Lincoln in the Atlantic World

Book Review

Richard Brown, last updated: 23rd February 2017

Lincoln in the Atlantic World, Louise L. Stevenson (Cambridge University Press), 2015 277pp., £21.99 paper, ISBN 978-1-107-52423-1

We tend to think of Abraham Lincoln as the almost archetypal American president, an individual who rose from log-cabin to the White House, who defended the Union against the threat posed by the secession of the southern states and who freed the slaves.  We do not think of him as a global figure, something remedied in this book that opens the vision of Lincoln as a global republican.  An original and wide-ranging work, it reveals how Abraham Lincoln responded to prompts from around the globe to shape his personal appearance, political appeal, and presidential policies. This is particularly evident in the opening chapter—the second shot heard ‘round the world—that considers the effect of his assassination on the global community.  Throughout his life, he learned lessons about slavery, American politics, and international relations from sources centred in Africa, Britain, and the European continent. Thanks to its new stories and compelling analyses, this book provides a provocative and stimulating read that will generate debate at both high and popular levels.