CRB: Twin peaks

This week we have previewed three stellar essays from the new (Summer) of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here). Forgive me for repeating myself: it is an invaluable magazine for those of us who love trustworthy essays on, and reviews of books about, politics, history, literature, and culture.

We conclude our preview this week with a bonus, our own Steve Hayward’s review of Lewis Lehrman’s Lincoln & Churchill: Two Statesmen At War. Steve’s review is “Twin peaks.” Steve wears his learning lightly while he gets right to the heart of the matter:

Two key traits of [Lincoln’s and Churchill’s] shared character stand out: magnanimity and wit. Their high-mindedness is well recalled from Lincoln’s admonition to have “malice toward none,” and Churchill’s motto “In victory, magnanimity.” But their character and gifts of perception transcended generosity of spirit or even forgiveness. Both men understood that vindictiveness was as bad for the victors as for the vanquished. In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln argued carefully and movingly that the guilt of slavery belonged to the whole nation, not just the South. He matched these words with deeds, standing athwart congressional measures to impose a punitive postwar reconstruction on the South. Churchill wrote in his World War II memoirs, “Nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance.” After Neville Chamberlain’s untimely death due to cancer in November 1940, Churchill gave full credit to his rival’s desire for peace without referring even indirectly to their bitter clashes over appeasement. “It fell to Neville Chamberlain,” Churchill said in his eulogy, “in one of the supreme crises of the world to be contradicted by events, to be disappointed in his hopes, and to be deceived and cheated by a wicked man.”

Steve’s review provides ample reward for the few minutes necessary to take it in.

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