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BOOK REVIEW369 development of urban form and structure; 2) urbanization can nurture sectional development as readily as nationalintegration; and3) so strong were the elements of continuity between ante-bellum and post-bellum Southern societies that we should speak of a "Renewed South" rather than a "New South." The first and third of these observations—though rarely as cogently argued as here—have, of course, been noted elsewhere. The second is more novel and deserves both serious consideration and further exploration in other geographic areas. Urban Growth in the Age of Sectionalism is a valuable book and, for the urban historian, both a rich and a timely book. Ifcomparative urban history in the United States develops as it should Goldfield's will doubtless be one of the milestone works in thatfield ofstudy. It deserves to be. Leonard P. Curry University of Louisville Our Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, and the Civil War Era. By Stephen B. Oates. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1979. Pp. ix, 150. $11.50.) Stephen Oates has long been familiar to students of the Civil War era as the author of the standard account of Confederate cavalry operations west of the Mississippi and of numerous studies of frontier Texas and Texans. His name, however, is best known for his biographical trilogy: To Purge This Land With Bhod (1970), a highly-acclaimed biography of John Brown; The Fires ofjubüee (1975), the story of Nat Turner and his rebellion; and With Malice Toward None (1977), an award-winning study of the life of Abraham Lincoln. Our Fiery Trial, conceived as a companion volume to the trilogy, is a collection of ten essays, several of which emerged from Oates' work on the biographies. Turner, Brown and Lincoln are linked by their involvment in the struggle against slavery, each coming at the issue from a different direction. While Turner receives passing treatment, Brown and Lincoln are the dominant figures on Oates' stage. The real significance of Harpers Ferry, Oates insists, must be sought in the context of Southern thought, in the centrality of slavery to Southern society and in die anxieties and fears that had been aroused by Nat Turner and William Lloyd Garrison. The South's "massive overreaction" to Brown's raid, baffling to Republicans who "kept trying to reach the South" with thenassurances "to the bitter end," resulted exactly as Brown had predicted—in a violent civil war in which slavery itself perished. Oates' Lincoln is the flesh-and-blood Lincoln that emerges after the crust of legend and polemic has been struck away, a "flawed and fatalistic individual who struggled with himself and his countrymen over the profound moral paradox of slavery in a nation based on the Declaration 370CIVIL WAR HISTORY of Independence." Once again, Oates insists that it is only through a scrupulous examination of Lincoln's own time that his "painful, ironic, and troubled" journey to emancipation can be properly understood. Lincoln appears as a bold, determined and unswerving opponent of slavery, dedicated not only to the destruction of human bondage but of the South's slave society as well, whose Emancipation Proclamation was "the most revolutionary measure ever to come from an American president up to that time." His vision "was close to that of old John Brown." Other essays deal with the treatment (and distortion) of John Brown by historians and modem-day radicals, with the "enigmatic" Stephen A. Douglas (an extended review of a recent biography of the Little Giant), and with Carl Sandburg's "mythical" Lincoln. Oates' essays are united on one level by their treatment of the slave rebel, the abolitionist and the Republican President and the common cause they espoused. There is a second level of unity that gives the collection added importance. Written with verve and conviction, the essays constitute a personal statement of concern for the nature of historical and biographical writing and for the responsibilities of the historian. Oates is dedicated to "humanistic history," to "history writing as literature." Taking his cue from Paul Murray Kendall, he believes that biography is an art, a form of literature, and that the true biographer "must be both an historian who is steeped in his material and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 369-370
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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