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Humanizing Abraham Lincoln

“Abraham Lincoln and Mexico” by Michael Hogan. Fondo Editorial Universitario. (Guadalajara, 2016), 322 pp.

Reviewed by A.S. Carbonell, Tel Aviv University

For years, Michael Hogan has inspired students to question political and cultural certainties. He taught them how to read critically and how to translate primary sources into clear historical insights. His latest book is the embodiment of his teachings. In “Abraham Lincoln and Mexico,” Hogan sets out to challenge the triumphalist narrative of the Mexican-American War. It is a clear and uncluttered text anchored firmly in a critical survey of primary sources and contemporary research.

Famous and forgotten characters populate this snapshot of the long relationship between Mexico and the United States. Their actions, hesitations, personal failings and virtues influenced the course of the Mexican-American War. Men like Henry David Thoreau and Senator Thomas Corwin were horrified by the atrocities committed by American troops in Mexico in 1847. Inspired by a disgust of violence and slavery, Thoreau would go on to write his classic essay “On Civil Disobedience” while Senator Corwin risked his political career by speaking out against the war.  The New England anti-war movement, abolitionists throughout the young nation, and groups of conscientious objectors, resisted Polk’s policies on similar grounds. 

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