Review by Booklist Review
Legal affairs journalist Abrams and coauthor Fisher illuminate a key marker on Abraham Lincoln's path to the White House. By the summer of 1859, some of Lincoln's staunchest supporters urged him to seek the Republican presidential nomination, and Lincoln, a highly successful and prominent Illinois attorney who had attracted national attention in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, was definitely interested. So his agreement to act as defense attorney in a murder trial in Springfield carried considerable political risks. After several earlier altercations, Quinn Harrison fatally stabbed Greek Crafton. Harrison's father was a prominent Republican and friend of Lincoln. Lincoln and cocounsel Stephen Logan based their strategy on self-defense, though Illinois standards of self-defense were particularly restrictive, and the presiding judge, possibly a political enemy of Lincoln, excluded critical testimony. Still, Lincoln and Logan soldiered on, and Lincoln was particularly effective, mixing a folksy demeanor and a sense of outrage at the injustice of the proceedings. The transcripts reveal Lincoln at his best, fighting for a cause he believed in with brilliance and passion qualities that would serve him so well as president.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Abrams, chief of legal affairs for ABC News and a contributor to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, is joined by Fisher, who has coauthored books with such celebrities as Bill O'Reilly and William Shatner, to recreate Abraham Lincoln's last significant trial before the 1860 presidential election. Drawing from a transcript of The State of Illinois v. "Peachy" Quinn Harrison discovered in 1989 in a garage once belonging to the defendant's great-grandson, the authors give readers a moment-by-moment account of the murder trial, which featured a well-liked young victim, a claim of self-defense, a deathbed admission, and Abraham Lincoln for the defense. At key moments, Abrams and Fisher imagine the thoughts, conversations, and strategies of Lincoln, the prosecutors, the court reporter, and the presiding judge. While these forays occasionally strain credibility (and mix somewhat oddly with the factual elements), they also add immediacy to the tale. A deeper understanding of the courtroom drama is aided by clear and enlightening explanations of the historic development of American jurisprudence, including the right to trial by jury and the legal concept of self-defense. Lincoln enthusiasts will find the illumination of his preternatural legal skills a worthy subject; casual readers will find the centerpiece murder trial an engrossing legal thriller. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
In a readable but sometimes fanciful book, Abrams (chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News; Man Down) and veteran author Fisher recount Lincoln's last major trial, in 1859, which they insist carried national political implications because of Lincoln's prominence following the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. In copious detail, they relate the murder trial in which Lincoln served as a defense counsel. The book is based on the trial transcript by politician Robert R. Hitt, a transcript that was discovered 30 years ago but has not been examined closely for what it reveals about Lincoln, the lawyer, until recently. Abrams and Fisher quote generously from Hitt's transcript to bring into sharp focus the witness-by-witness testimony and courtroom proceedings. They also provide instructive historical context on the development of legal practice, jury selection and duties, concepts of self-defense, courtroom pleadings, and Lincoln's recognized genius in cross-examination and closing arguments. However, the authors sacrifice credibility for readability by inventing musings and dialog by Hitt, Lincoln, and other principals. They never make a case for their hyperbolic subtitle; in fact, the trial was not Lincoln's last. Verdict A book that lets readers see Lincoln the lawyer in action but fails to prove its argument.-Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.