Posted on April 28, 2022
Author: Brian Kilmede
My Rating: 4/5
In some ways this was just a biography of two men – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass – especially at the beginning of the book. It alternated chapters – Lincoln’s beginnings, Douglass’s beginnings – and so on. This was actually fine for me because I’ve not read a biography of either of these men. So it was nice to get a little background.
As the book went on it highlighted the events leading up to the Civil War and how both Lincoln and Douglass contributed to the outcome. I was very surprised at how unsure Lincoln was. I think we think of him as a confident, decisive man – but this book portrayed him as unsure and also willing to change his mind.
Douglass came across as incredibly brave – to escape slavery, to do all the things he did – speaking, newspaper, etc. – and then to go on to influence the President of the United States of America – that took guts. I also liked that Douglass wanted Black Americans to stay in America and be Americans.
We are American by birth and education, and have a preference for American institutions Why, oh why! may not men of different races inhabit in peace and happiness this vast and wealthy country?
This book did a good job showing that these men were not simple men. They were complex. They were willing to change their minds, when they were convinced. They were willing to speak their minds, even when it wasn’t popular. I believe American has a lot to owe to these two men.
I think the author to a good job of summing up this book and America in general in the introduction,
…America is a truly exceptional nation – not because we are perfect, but because we try to be.