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American Rambler with Colin Woodward


Aug 18, 2018

William Freehling has been around. His first book, Prelude to Civil War, was published in the 1960s. Prelude won the coveted Bancroft Prize as well as the Nevins Prize for best dissertation that year. Since then, Bill has published other books about slavery, politics, and the Civil War. Now, he has a new book, Becoming Lincoln, which looks at the successes and many failures that characterized Lincoln's early life and career. 

Bill lives in Virginia, but his career has taken him literally across the country, from Harvard (where he got his undergraduate degree and studied with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.) to Berkeley, where he got his doctorate studying under Kenneth Stampp. He has taught in Michigan, Maryland, and Kentucky, but originally he is from Chicago.

Bill and Colin talk about how in many ways, the Civil War was a victory of Mid-Westerners conquering the South. What does Lincoln's role in the period tell us? For one, it says that our failures are very often more important learning experiences than our victories.