The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention That Changed History by Edward Achorn is a book which greatly represents its content. Looking in through the window of history the National Convention is only a few days away with Seward leading the pack. In all likelihood, it very well may have ended up this way if not for detailed politicking and maneuvering. While many stories attempt to preserve Lincoln’s image and his deification, Achorn reveals many of the details which occurred and led to the nomination of Abraham Lincoln.
Achorn does a great job at introducing unfamiliar or peripheral characters. While the Convention is only a few days away, he does reach back in time when necessary to provide information on someone the reader may not know very well, or at all. Seemingly everyone from Seward to Lincoln’s close contacts to Lincoln himself are included. However, the point of Lincoln’s own history are not belabored as has been repeated in innumerable books before.
Likewise, the setting up of the country is also important. And just as with the characters, it is not overdone either. Achorn lays the groundwork for the north vs. south issues, discussing the politics within the Convention and detailing how Republicans were often referred to as the derogatory “black” Republicans to signify their beliefs on slavery.
The book is well researched, well written and easily read. At the same time, it doesn’t talk down to the reader. It is largely an efficient book and does exactly what it states it will do. As the days edge on, there are countdowns of each ballot which ultimately led to Lincoln’s nomination and ultimate election. There are discussions between the people about who to elect, why and what such an election may do to the country.
The only exception I may add to this is an unnecessary 40 page epilogue which covers the national election. A different book may be more suitable for that project and what is provided is woefully insufficient to be tacked on at the end of a book of this sort. But this is the only negative within the book and is certainly a minimal complaint.
Overall The Lincoln Miracle set up a goal and accomplished it in order. Thus far it has been the best book I have read this year and while I don’t think it will hold on to that title by year’s end, it will almost definitely remain in a top ten list by the New Year. If you have an interest in US History, the Civil War, political parties, politics of the time or even of Abraham Lincoln of Seward themselves, this would be a great book to get into and expand upon your knowledge.