A few months back, in my post about John Nichols’s The S Word, I mentioned a brief, formal correspondence between Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx that the author had made reference to. I found the idea of these two men interacting to be fascinating, and was a little disappointed that Nichols didn’t explore it more in depth. Thankfully, author Robin Blackburn has it covered. His An Unfinished Revolution is entirely about the relationship (largely indirect) between Marx and Lincoln, particularly how they shared similar, if not exactly complimentary, views on the place of labor in society and the importance of abolishing slavery as a means to enriching the lives of all working people, white and black. My review of the book was published today at PopMatters.
Blackburn’s book is comprised of an original, 100-page analysis and an appendix, containing several excerpts from primary sources that are intended to give readers a deeper understanding of the characters involved and the times they lived in. The prose is crisp and entertaining yet still manages to pack in an amazing amount of high-quality, insightful information. As someone who’s recently done a lot of reading on both the Civil War and Marx, I was happy to find that An Unfinished Revolution never felt stale or overly familiar. Blackburn has produced a unique and powerful take on these well-worn subjects.