I was watching Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch last night, talking about their great new book, The Lincoln Conspiracy, on which I provided some research help. Brad lamented our tendency to worship people like Lincoln, saying that this prevents us from seeing Lincoln as a person, one who made some mistakes as well as did…

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Last night I heard Kathy Izard speak about her book, The Hundred Story Home, and her quest to end homelessness. The book, in a sense, starts with another book, Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. That book describes how Ron Hall befriended Denver Moore, took him into his home,…

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I read a lot of history books for my research: I have on the kitchen table right now a volume of the history of the Supreme Court, about 1500 pages, not light reading. So, when I go upstairs in the evening, and read for pleasure, I often read historical fiction. Most often I read about…

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One of Salmon Chase’s best friends was Charles Sumner, the antislavery leader from Massachusetts. They first met in the 1840s, mainly through the mail, and they served together in the United States Senate in the 1850s, when they were among the most ardent opponents of the Fugitive Slave Law and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. During the…

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I realize, now that I have cancer, that I have been reading about cancer for many years. Most of what I know about cancer I know from reading. That is, I suppose true of most topics; we learn about Brazil, or the French Revolution, or John Jay, by reading. I could go on and on…

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A few weeks ago, on Friday April 13, I saw my usual doctor for my annual physical. The exam went well until that final phase, for men, the digital rectal examination. Instead of saying, as I expected, “that is fine too” Dr. C said something like “hmm, that is not quite right, you should see…

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As I start work on Salmon Chase, I am greatly indebted to John Niven.  Starting in 1984, Niven led a team of scholars that gathered the papers of Salmon Chase.  They published both a microfilm edition AND a five-volume printed version of Chase papers.  In the midst of this massive project, Niven published in 1995…

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George Will has a strong review of Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses Grant in today’s Washington Post.  Among other things, as I urge editors that Salmon Chase deserves at least 600 pages, it is nice to read a review that says Chernow’s 1000-page book is not too long. The following paragraph from Will raises interesting…

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Harold Holzer reviewed the Stanton book for the Wall Street Journal yesterday.  It is a long, detailed review, and I will not quote it all here, but send the readers of this blog to the review itself.  Key quote, from my perspective:  “This exhaustively researched, well-paced book should take its place as the new, standard…

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I am getting ready to teach, next semester at Chapman, a course on the Civil War, and thinking about how I first got fascinated by that war.  It goes back, I think, to Augustus Long. It was about 1991 or 1992, when I started looking into my genealogy, that I learned that my great-great grandfather,…

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