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Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
A captivating look at how Abraham Lincoln evolved into one of our seminal foreign-policy presidents—and helped point the way to America’s rise to world power.
This is the story of one of the most breathtaking feats in the annals of American foreign policy—performed by one of the most unlikely figures. Abraham Lincoln is not often remembered as a great foreign-policy president. He had never traveled overseas and spoke no foreign languages. And yet, during the Civil War, Lincoln and his team skillfully managed to stare down the Continent’s great powers—deftly avoiding European intervention on the side of the Confederacy. In the process, the United States emerged as a world power in its own right.
Engaging, insightful, and highly original, Lincoln in the World is a tale set at the intersection of personal character and national power. The narrative focuses tightly on five distinct, intensely human conflicts that helped define Lincoln’s approach to foreign affairs—from his debate, as a young congressman, with his law partner over the conduct of the Mexican War, to his deadlock with Napoleon III over the French occupation of Mexico. Bursting with colorful characters like Lincoln’s bowie-knife-wielding minister to Russia, Cassius Marcellus Clay; the cunning French empress, Eugénie; and the hapless Mexican monarch Maximilian—Lincoln in the World draws a finely wrought portrait of a president and his team at the dawn of American power.
In the Age of Lincoln, we see shadows of our own world. The international arena in the 1860s could be a merciless moral vacuum. Lincoln’s times demanded the cold, realistic pursuit of national interest, and, in important ways, resembled our own increasingly multipolar world. And yet, like ours, Lincoln’s era was also an information age, a period of rapid globalization. Steamships, telegraph wires, and proliferating new media were transforming the world. Global influence required the use of “soft power” as well as hard.
Anchored by meticulous research into overlooked archives, Lincoln in the World reveals the sixteenth president to be one of America’s indispensable diplomats—and a key architect of America’s emergence as a global superpower. Much has been written about how Lincoln saved the Union, but Lincoln in the World highlights the lesser-known—yet equally vital—role he played on the world stage during those tumultuous years of war and division.
About the Author
KEVIN PERAINO is a veteran foreign correspondent who has reported from throughout the world. He spent a decade at Newsweek, most recently as a senior writer and bureau chief in the Middle East. He was a finalist for the Livingston Award for his foreign-affairs reporting, and was part of the team that won a National Magazine Award for its coverage of the 2004 presidential campaign. A graduate of Northwestern University and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and children. Follow him on Twitter @KevinPeraino.
Praise for Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power…
One of the Daily Beast's "Best Books on President Lincoln"
"Revealing and fresh ... There is much here that will interest even those steeped in the vast Lincoln literature." –Washington Post
"A form of intellectual isolationism frequently mars the work of American historians, who often study U.S. politicians without appreciating how those figures’ perceptions of events overseas influenced their ideas about their country’s role in global affairs. Lincoln in the World avoids this pitfall.... [I]t is an important step toward a richer and more useful understanding of the American past." –Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs
"[Peraino's] technique works brilliantly.... A well-written, finely researched and provocative study of what, to many, is a lesser-known aspect of the Civil War period and Lincoln's presidency." –Charleston Post and Courier
"At once informative and interesting, showcasing the formation of specific slices of Lincoln’s foreign policy and portraying a very human Lincoln—as opposed to the demigod he has become in the popular imagination.... A perceptive work that is both entertaining and accessible to a general readership." –Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Riveting and revealing... A recommended addition to Lincoln collections." –Library Journal
"With original research, Peraino achieves a remarkable triple play for readers of Lincoln, the Civil War, and diplomatic history." –Booklist
"Kevin Peraino is a major new historical talent, combining the sensibility of a gifted writer and storyteller with a keen analytic intelligence. You may think you know all you need to know about Abraham Lincoln, but in this lucid and compelling new book, you will discover that you've only heard half the story. Here is the Lincoln who looked abroad, struggling with, and ultimately shaping, America's role in the world." –Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
"Lincoln came into the presidency professing that, as a country lawyer, he knew nothing about foreign affairs. He had never been abroad. Yet as Kevin Peraino shows in this penetrating account, Lincoln steered American policy through the shoals of potential foreign intervention in the Civil War and brought the U.S. triumphantly through this crisis as the exemplar of democratic freedoms in a changing world."–James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
"Peraino's narrative beautifully illustrates the political battles that shaped Lincoln's approach to diplomacy." –Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
"With the virtues of both a scholar (his research is prodigious) and a journalist (he writes with verve and flair), Kevin Peraino shines a bright light on a neglected aspect of Lincoln’s remarkable leadership." –Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life
"A French army in Mexico, Spanish ships in the Caribbean, Britain threatening war–President Lincoln had to contend with more than the forces of the Confederacy. With keen insight and a lively, deft touch, Kevin Peraino puts Lincoln on the world stage, struggling with the tension between realism and idealism that would shape American foreign policy down to this day. A riveting and original work." –Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff
"Lincoln in the World is an engaging and important book. An accomplished storyteller, Kevin Peraino makes a persuasive case for Abraham Lincoln as one of this nation's most effective foreign policy presidents and a key figure in its emergence as a great power." –George C. Herring, author of From Colony to Superpower
"Elegantly written, thoroughly analyzed, well researched, and up to date on scholarship, this is a masterfully crafted analysis of a born diplomat of the first order... Award-winning quality…" –Howard Jones, author of Blue and Gray Diplomacy
"A fascinating bookend to the Lincoln story.... The author shares the heartening and uplifting details of Lincoln's influence in the world. In so doing, he inspires us in our America that remains a 'house divided.'" –Frank J. Williams, founding chair of The Lincoln Forum