by Adam Braver
Whether the thirteen stories of Mr. Lincoln's Wars adds up to a novel depends on how neatly one likes one's story threads woven together. The stories take you back and forth in time, meeting characters real and fictional, many of whom never show up again. Braver does succeed at bringing the reader into a world, one of grief, kindness, violence, compassion, and madness. The writing is so vivid and detailed that I felt I could smell Lincoln's office, the horses on the cobblestones, the Civil War hospital. One of the stories, about a man who finds an outlet for his violent impulses in the War, was a bit too gruesome for me. Lincoln himself is portrayed as a good man, haunted by depression and death, both larger-than-life and more human than we've ever seen him. On the whole, Mr. Lincoln's Wars brought to life a man, and a time, I was fascinated to visit.