On July 12, 1862, Abraham Lincoln spoke for the first time of his intention to free the slaves. On January 1, 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, doing precisely that. In between was perhaps the most tumultuous period of his presidency, a time when Lincoln fought bitterly with his generals, disappointed his cabinet, doubted long-held personal principles, and sank into bouts of clinical depression. Most surprising, the man who would be remembered as the Great Emancipator agonized over the very act of emancipation almost to the moment when he inked the decree.
Popular myth would have us believe that Lincoln did not suffer such uncertainty, that he did what he did through the courage of moral resolve, but a close examination of these 180 days undermines any such notion. In the end, emancipation was his great gamble, with the future of the Union, of slavery, and of the presidency itself hanging in the balance.
In this brilliant, authoritative, and riveting account, the clock is always ticking and the casualties of war mounting as Lincoln searches desperately for the right path in a time of crisis. Lincoln's Gamble portrays an imperfect man with an unshakable determination to save his country even as that country undergoes its greatest trial.