"Lincoln's wrath" - case dismissed

Finished the book Lincoln's Wrath to find out (quiet please) he didn't do it. Or at least he didn't order the shutdown of the newspaper in question in a way that could be traced back to him.

AL had the means to shut down newspapers, he had the motive to do so, but he could not be connected to the action at the center of this book except through Stanton. (Ah, Stanton. We meet again.)

In Lincoln's Wrath, a couple of novice ACW writers, Jeffrey Manber and Neil Dahlstrom, strive to convey a complex incident of Civil War repression throught the impossible means of telling it as a story.

Please open yourself to this paradox: complexity demands complexity, not reductionism. The story form cannot convey why and how any Democratic party newspapers - and this paper - were suppressed 1861-1862.

The authors' investigation into Lincoln's involvement in this particular incident - involving the West Chester Jeffersonian - lasted over a decade. No smoking gun found. Nevertheless, the book is set up as a whodunit, with Lincoln escaping conviction by the reader at the very last moment.

I enjoyed learning the economic ABCs of 19th Century newspaper ownership; and learning about Lincoln's secret ownership of an Illinois newspaper; and about his unsigned wartime editorials; I agree that he was the first "newspaper president" - it's a good term; I was shocked at the number of friendly newspaper editors he appointed to government positions; I did not know that parallel to Seward's recorded secret arrests of civilians, Cameron secretly arrested many more without recording their identities; I did not know that Cameron and Blair prevented papers critical of Lincoln from being carried on trains or through the mails; I was intrigued by the Republican managed mob violence against Democrats in the Summer of Rage; I well understood that the Adminsistration construed criticism of itself with discouragement of enlistments (the definition of treason under the Confiscation Act). Well and good.

All this has the makings of an interesting study that resonates with current events. Unfortunately, storytelling insticts rendered these mere points of interest instead of starting points for further investigation.

Dedicated to description and analysis of Democratic party-busting during the war years, this book would have had real worth.

In the frontmatter, one Peter Lynch is mentioned as the editor who guided this effort into "better" talespinning. He served his publisher well and the public poorly.