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The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln    by Stephen L. Carter order for
Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln
by Stephen L. Carter
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Stephen Carter has re-imagined history and given us a chance to see the inner workings of the Lincoln administration. His courtroom scenes are a wonder to read and enjoy. We feel that we are present with a learned companion who is able to explain all to us.

Lincoln survives the assassination attempt by Booth only to have to endure impeachment proceedings. The focal point of the story is Abigail Canner, a beautiful young black law clerk. Her position, so unusual for her race and gender, most especially at that time, gives her opportunities to use her gifts and generate admiration from those who are willing to see them. At the same time she must suffer under those who believe she can never be anything but a glorified cleaning lady or gofer.

Carter explores all this pretty obliquely so we must work almost as hard as Abigail to understand what is really happening. Lincoln is portrayed in all his home-spun charm but underscored by a steel grip on who is being helpful to his cause and who is not. Abigail must deal with murders as well as shifty Radicals, lawyers and southern folk, both black and white, and so it takes her a while to figure things out because although the law may be clear, the path of politics can be quite crooked. Echoes of this story have resonance in today's world, if we would only take the time to listen.

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