Like many of his countrymen, Abraham Lincoln entered the world of great affairs from the outside. During the Civil War, he emerged as a deft diplomat and sought to coordinate his military and political policies at home with the needs of U.S. diplomacy. Peraino begins with Lincoln’s opposition to the Mexican-American War and chronicles his later management, as president, of relations with France and the United Kingdom during the Civil War. 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, and although it is not the final word on some of the subjects it treats, it is an important step toward a richer and more useful understanding of the American past.
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