Sidney Blumenthal: 'Wrestling with His Angel'

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May 20 2017 33 mins  

I just finished talking with Sidney Blumenthal, and I know, depending on which cable network you prefer, he’s someone you already likely either love or hate. But I’m telling you, regardless of where you fall, you’re really going to like this conversation. We spoke because Sidney has a new book, and it’s excellent – It’s “Wrestling With His Angel: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. II, 1849-1856.” He has two more volumes to go, and wait until you hear about his process. It was not what I thought it would be. The book isn’t just a fascinating look back at our President to be living in one of the most compelling, dangerous times in our history The book also is incredibly, almost scarily, relevant today. A divided country. Intense fights over “popular sovereignty,” also known as states’ rights. Incredibly charged personalities – some of the most influential and divisive we’ve seen – people like Jefferson Davis, Stephen Douglas, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster. And then there is Lincoln himself. Blumenthal describes this as Lincoln’s time in the wilderness, where he reads and thinks and, yes, follows politics intensely. This is the time when the coming American icon develops an extraordinary level of self-discipline. You can hardly hear that description of a future U.S. President without thinking about today. And as for Trump… yes, we talked about him, too. And about Hillary Clinton. And confidential information. I came away from this book and conversation with an overwhelming thought. One for which we should not need reminding, but in case we do, here it is: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. As for Sidney Blumenthal’s biography. He’s been on the political scene for so long, that you might not know the details. He is or has been: • Assistant & Senior Advisor to the President Bill Clinton • Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton • Writer, journalist, editor at Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic • Author of 11 books • Executive producer of Academy Award and Emmy award winning Taxi to the Dark Side, a documentary that explored the American military's use of torture by focusing on the unsolved murder of an Afhgani taxi driver. But we started the conversation by talking about his book. Let’s get to it: