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BOOK REVIEWS189 times enables him to provide new insights and interpretations from which all of us can profit. In his preface Current summarizes his collection of essays, saying he hopes that through them Lincoln will have something to say to the reader by reviewing the uses various groups have made of his name, by correcting the story where it is inconsistent with historical evidence, and by attempting to show the continuing relevance of Lincoln for our time. This, then, is the history of ideas in the best sense of the term, written in traditional narrative style and eminently readable. Current's view of Lincoln is definitely positive. Although he is careful to mention his very human frailities, the overall interpretation is one of a "Great Man" who symbolizes the best of the American Spirit. In comparison with Webster or Thaddeus Stevens, Lincoln is favored, though Current is always fair in giving credit to the others and their contributions to our heritage. In "Through India with Abraham Lincoln," Current even compares Lincoln favorably with Gandhi. Although the Indians he spoke with praised Gandhi's use of nonviolence, one of them pointed out that if India had had a Lincoln there might have been violent rebellion but there would not have been partition or a separate state of Pakistan. This illustrates the problem in attempting such an analogy. Gandhi deplored partition but was in no position to prevent it. And Lincoln did not have to confront both the questions of independence from Great Britain and secession. The times and issues were wholly different. The book raises several questions. Is the Lincoln theme the best vehicle for discussing the many historical issues which Current includes in his essays? While one can only marvel at the imaginative and challenging interpretations he presents, it is possible that the overall impact is creation of a new Lincoln legend. The other question is whether Lincoln or any nineteenth-century leader has the kind of relevance for our time which Current asserts. These are queries suggested for those who may spend an evening or two reading this volume. Yet questions should never interfere with the reading and enjoyment of this book. It is full of fresh ideas, and once begun it will be difficult to put down. That can be said about very few historical writings published today. Larry Gara Wilmington College Unlikely Warriors: General Benjamin H. Grierson and His Family. By William H. Leckie and Shirley A. Leckie. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984. Pp. xv, 368. $19.95.) Historians routinely have ignored or disparaged General Benjamin H. Grierson's important contributions to the settlement of the post-Civil War frontier. Grierson gained national prominence as a result of a bold cavalry raid through Mississippi in the spring of 1863. As commander of the Tenth Cavalry—one of the postwar army's two black mounted regiments—he 190CIVIL WAR HISTORY supervised construction of Fort Sill, enforced President Grant's Peace Policy toward the Indians, made possible the settlement of much of West Texas, and preserved peace between whites and Indians in Arizona and New Mexico. Above all, Grierson was a devoted family man. William and Shirley Leckie have patiently sifted through a remarkable body of personal correspondence, and the result is a compassionate and fascinating portrait of a Victorian family and its ultimately tragic quest for the American dream. Although touching upon the lives of three generations of the Grierson and Kirk families, Unlikely Warriors focuses on the thirty-four-year marriage of Alice Kirk and Benjamin Grierson. They were an unusual couple . The son of Scots-Irish immigrants, Grierson was an irreverant, funloving musician and frustrated entrepreneur. Alice Kirk was the eldest daughter of a well-to-do businessman and churchman who imparted to his first born his humanitarian principles, serious demeanor, and deep religious principles. Ben and Alice shared a far from idyllic life together. The sheer bulk of their correspondence is testimony, not just to the close bonds of affection between husband and wife, but also to the frequency of ttieir separation and to the considerable authority which Alice wielded in making family decisions and raising five children. What makes their story compelling is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 189-191
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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