Book Review: Lincoln’s Last Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher (Three Stars)


Book Review: Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency by Dan Abrams and David Fisher

(Three Stars)

“Ask yourself: what is the justice in this case?” A. Lincoln

Exhaustive review of a trial transcript with explanatory amplifications. By the authors’ own admission, Lincoln was already headed toward the presidency, and their work gives no indication how it “propelled him to the presidency,” rather how he dodged a bullet that could have killed his dark horse bid at the Republican nomination.

“I must say I do not think myself fit for the presidency.” A. Lincoln (1959)

Based on the recently recovered transcript of Robert Roberts Hitt. Telling the story from Hitt’s point of view saved the author’s from putting too many words into Lincoln’s mouth. But because the transcript was all they had that was new, the reader is subjected to pages of irrelevant background. Too much analysis.

“Hitt never heard another man able to turn words into feelings quite like that.”

Unfortunately, Hitt did not record the closing arguments. By everyone’s admission this is where Lincoln won the case, but all we have is Hitt’s summary and the authors’ speculation what was actually said.

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” A. Lincoln

Of more interest to aficionados of courtroom drama than to historians.

“People grow into murders; they didn’t just happen.” A. Lincoln

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