Wednesday, October 24, 2018


I just got in a copy of an advertising flyer from Southern Illinois University Press. It highlighted some of their newer books on Lincoln, and Prairie Defender was one of the books included, along with an excerpt from a review of the book published in the Midwest Book Review. Here is the entry for Prairie Defender:

ADDENDUM: After making the above post, I found the Midwest Book Review online and found the full text of the review. Here it is:

Synopsis: According to conventional wisdom, Abraham Lincoln spent most of his law career collecting debt and representing railroads, and this focus made him inept at defending clients in homicide cases. "Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln" is an unprecedented study of Lincoln's criminal cases, in which George Dekle (who worked as an assistant state attorney in the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida, where he prosecuted hundreds of homicide cases, and for the past ten years he served as the director of the prosecution clinic at the University of Florida Law School) disproves these popular notions, showing that Lincoln was first and foremost a trial lawyer. Through careful examination of Lincoln's homicide cases and evaluation of his legal skills, Dekle demonstrates that criminal law was an important part of Lincoln's practice, and that he was quite capable of defending people accused of murder, trying approximately one such case per year. After more than 150 years it is remarkable that there is still more to be discovered and written about the life and accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln.

Critique: "Prairie Defender" is an impressively researched, exceptionally well written, informatively organized and presented work of seminal scholarship. The result is a unique and singular study that will prove to be an outstanding and appreciated contribution to community and academic library 19th Century American History collections in general, and Abraham Lincoln supplemental studies reading lists in particular. Highly recommended.

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