Lincoln and the Irish: The Untold Story of How the Irish Helped Abraham Lincoln Save the Union | Niall O’Dowd

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2019: Book #15

I’m a sucker for a book about Abraham Lincoln. Recently, I picked up Niall O’Dowd’s book, Lincoln and the Irish: The Untold Story of How the Irish Helped Abraham Lincoln Save the Union.

To my disappointment, this was not a book about Abraham Lincoln. There are probably less than five stories about Lincoln in the entire book. The bulk of the book is about Irish involvement in the American Civil War and how, in this author’s opinion, the Union would not have been saved without them.

It’s an Interesting book, just not what I’d call a “Lincoln” book.

O’Dowd writes this sentence: “Three men forged the path for 150,000 Irishmen to fight and very likely save the Union.”

I get it. He has a point and I in no way want to take away from the contribution the Irish played in giving the North a victory. However, I would have enjoyed it more if he had broadened his focus just a bit. In giving the North a victory, we must consider Lincoln’s leadership, his vision of freedom, the leadership of General Grant and so much more.

Regarding Lincoln, O’Dowd does have this telling paragraph:

“Even after battle defeats, Lincoln appeared to internalize the strain. Aides spoke of the heavy ‘tramp tramp’ across the bedroom floor over their heads from the residential part of the White House after major defeats like Antietam and Fredericksburg. Back and forth until the early hours, Lincoln would go walking. They remembered his amazing resilience too, often appearing the next day with virtually no sleep ready to press on with the war.”

Leaders feel the strain of decisions and the results of those decisions.

The book is okay, but I can only give it 2 out of 5 stars.

That’s book #15 for 2019.
37 more to go.

Remember, all leaders are readers.

If you want to be a better leader…be a reader.


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