As the Civil War's end seems nigh, Abraham Lincoln is worried: it seems that, if peace is made before the end of slavery is made constitutional, the Emancipation Proclamation will be thrown out and America will continue to engage in slavery. Thus, Lincoln is making it his number one priority to pass the thirteenth amendment through the house and the Senate in a couple of weeks. Lincoln's core group of cabinet members and advisers are concerned; they will need Democrats to pass the bill, and they aren't even sure all of the Republicans will pass it, as they are more concerned about ending the war than they are about ending slavery. Lincoln focuses in on the lame duck Democrats, all leaving soon after losing their fall elections. He sends out representatives to offer those Democrats federal jobs if they are complicit in voting through the amendment, and he asks the head of the Republican Party to galvanize support on his own side of the party line. Yet with the head of the Republicans insistent upon commencing peace talks with the Confederacy, and the leader of the Radical Republicans, Thaddeus Stevens, insistent that the Amendment is not strong enough in its moral convictions, Lincoln sees his hopes of ratifying the amendment before peace is made dwindling with each passing day, and his legacy vanishing right before his very eyes.
Best part of story, including ending:
It manages to take something that sounds inherently boring-- a bunch of men sitting around talking about the merits of a bill-- and gives it the energy of a thriller.
Best scene in story:
Thaddeus Stevens speaking before Congress is a delight every time it happens, as he is a cantankerous old man who loves nothing more than hurling witty insults at his enemies.
Opinion about the main character:
Lincoln is not portrayed as a saint here, but rather as a complicated man with a difficult home life and a shrewd mind for politics. The complications to his personality make him even more endearing.