Books: The Man for the Job

STANTON: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LINCOLN'S SECRETARY OF WAR (643 pp.)—Benjamin P. Thomas and Harold M. Hyman—Knopf ($8.50).

Few prominent Americans have been hated so much as Edwin McMasters Stanton, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War. Stanton was vilified as the man who ruined the South by championing the vindictive Reconstruction Acts. Even today, an esoteric cult of historians stoutly maintains that Stanton planned the assassination of Lincoln so that he could take over the country.

Historian Benjamin P. Thomas was completing his research for a definitive biography of Stanton when he died in...

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