"Mark R. Neely, Jr., provides for the general reader the first compact biography of Abraham Lincoln based on new scholarship. There is no comparable, succinct work on this nation's greatest president." "The Last Best Hope of Earth vividly recaptures the central place of politics in Lincoln's life. In Illinois, Lincoln was an established and prosperous lawyer, married to a refined and educated southern belle, and the father of four boys. Throughout his life, however, politics remained his first love. In Neely's depiction of Lincoln, power was never sought for its own sake. Having triumphed over the hardscrabble circumstances of his youth in Kentucky and Indiana, Lincoln, early in his political career, tied his ambition to the search for solutions to the economic underdevelopment of the American West. And in the last eleven years of his life, Lincoln's political ambitions became yoked to a fierce nationalism and a keen moral purpose - the preservation of the Union and the demise of slavery. Lincoln could not remember a time when he did not hate slavery, or revere the federal system. He made his position clear in the decade leading up to his presidential election campaign, and a civil war erupted." "Through Neely's eyes we see the growth of this president's advanced ideas about military strategy, despite their price in blood; his husbanding of the resources of the home front, regardless of its cost in national treasure; and his complex defense of the Constitution, notwithstanding a momentary loss of civil liberties. We also see Lincoln's steadfast dedication to the Emancipation Proclamation, while the fate of the republic and the future of four million black Americans hung in the balance." "Richly illustrated, nuanced and accessible, written with attention to the age in which Lincoln lived, yet ever alert to universal moral questions, this is a portrait of Lincoln as an extraordinary man in his own time and ours."--BOOK JACKET.