Oct 3, 2023 - Politics & Policy

New book on Lincoln offers lessons for today's divided America

Cover: Penguin Press

NPR host Steve Inskeep is out Tuesday with a new book on Abraham Lincoln titled "Differ We Must: How Lincoln Succeeded in a Divided America."

Why it matters: The book lays bare "a great politician's strategy in a country divided," offering "lessons for our own disorderly present," the publisher says.

In the book, Inskeep writes that Lincoln's human interactions "show a master politician's practical and moral choices":

"In all that he said and did, he considered his audience, making calculations based on a straightforward understanding of human nature. He told his friend and law partner William Herndon that people acted entirely out of self-interest — that even their most loving, patriotic, or altruistic deeds were meant to bring them some benefit or pleasure."

Details: Inskeep, the consummate morning conversationalist, focuses on 16 face-to-face meetings Lincoln had, before and during his presidency, with people who "differed with him — in background, experience or opinion."

  • "In letters and speeches," Inskeep writes, "he used the word interest far more often than liberty, freedom, or moral, and referred often to people's motive, by which he meant their self-interest."

More on the book.

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