Now, this is not the opening salvo in what will become a full-scale bombardment designed to bring down the Lincoln Memorial. But I think most historians have been too busily celebrating Lincoln as commander-in-chief to assess his performance dispassionately. There have been dissenting voices, but they tend to come from scholars who want to defend a particular general, and in many cases the voices have been drowned out in a chorus of mostly untempered praise. Sometimes the Lincoln myth actually does a disservice to Lincoln, as in the oft-told tale of his supposedly constant support of Ulysses S. Grant.I would suggest what we all need is a good book about the management style and system of Abraham Lincoln. There really has never been one to my knowledge. What appears in that flavor tends to be highlight driven, focused on analyzing individual decisions and outcomes; or it tends to formulate bromides through selective presentation.
The reader needs a sense of how the man spent his days, day after day; the balance between impromptu and schedule; the choices made of people to interact with; the choices made of type of work to perform; his subordinates' comments on work habits; his method for reaching decisions; major decisions never taken; you get the idea.
I think Lincoln was a chaotic individual, difficult to be around, with a provisional approach to deciding small matters and large; in cases where his provisional choices became locked down by circumstance, we find writers celebrating these as the wise fruit of long-held beliefs and careful planning. I think working for him, you or I would find him maddeningly vague and unfocused, constantly preserving his prerogatives (wiggle room?) when decisions were needed. But I could be wrong. Write the book, somebody, and let's see.
p.s. Manny had something to say on this earlier this month. He notes Lincoln is a natural for "quipstorians." (BTW, man, I hate quipstorians.) [Hat tip to Harry Smeltzer]