Lincoln's Gamble

The Tumultuous Six Months that Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War

Lincoln's Gamble

“A masterful psychological portrait” (George Stephanopoulos) of the most critical six months in Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, when he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and changed the course of the Civil War.

On July 12, 1862, Abraham Lincoln spoke for the first time of his intention to free the slaves. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, doing precisely that. In between, however, was a tumultuous six months, an episode during which the sixteenth president fought bitterly with his generals, disappointed his cabinet, and sank into painful bouts of clinical depression. Most surprising, the man who would be remembered as “The Great Emancipator” did not hold firm to his belief in emancipation. He agonized over the decision and was wracked by private doubts almost to the moment when he inked the decree that would change a nation. It was a great gamble, with the future of the Union, of slavery, and of the presidency itself hanging in the balance.

In this compelling narrative, Todd Brewster focuses on this crucial time period to ask: was it through will or by accident, intention or coincidence, personal achievement or historical determinism that he freed the slaves? “Brewster brings elegant clarity to the tangle of conflicting ideologies, loyalties, and practicalities that pushed the proclamation forward” (Publishers Weekly), portraying the president as an imperfect man with an unshakable determination to save a country he believed in, even as the course of the Civil War remained unknown.
  • Scribner | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451693898 | 
  • August 2015
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Video

Todd Brewster: Book That Changed My Life

Todd Brewster, author of Lincoln's Gamble, remembers being particularly moved when he read D.H. Lawrence's book, The Rainbow, when he was in college.

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About the Author

Todd Brewster
Photograph by Marion Ettlinger

Todd Brewster

Todd Brewster has served as Don E. Ackerman Director of Oral History at the United States Military Academy, West Point, and is a longtime journalist who has worked as an editor for Time and Life and as senior producer for ABC News. He has written for Vanity Fair, Time, Life, The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, and is the coauthor with the late Peter Jennings of the bestselling books The Century, The Century for Young People, and In Search of America. He lives with his wife and two sons in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He is also the author of Lincoln’s Gamble.

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