by Arnie Bernstein $15.95 published by Lake Claremont Press ISBN1-893121-06-2 250 pages (www.lakeclaremont.com) Review by Rees Taylor
This is a small guidebook to Chicago, written by someone who has a wealth of local knowledge about its links to the Civil War. The main body of the book is split into two areas, the first deals with Chicago and the Lincoln family, the second with the Civil War. In both parts it takes the reader on a tour of the city's districts showing sites or in some cases, former sites of significance and interest. Assisting the tour are the vignettes included by the author about characters and events surrounding the sites and this is where the book derives its main strength. Be it the former site of the 'Wigwam' convention hall, where the Republican Party met in 1860 to select their candidate for the presidential election. Bernstein recounts the fascinating story of how Lincoln was nominated as the candidate, despite being the underdog. He deals with the trials and tribulations of Mary Lincoln, the most traumatic being her insanity hearing, with the final witness against her being her son Robert Todd Lincoln. The Civil War section deals with a variety of items, for example Camp Douglas, where Allan Pinkerton is buried, the red-light areas and its British links, the underground railway in Chicago. Also included are items about the press in Chicago; Ellsworth's Zouaves, and Mary Livermore. The final section of the book reproduces an appeal against the Black Laws of Illinois made in the Chicago Tribune. The main drawback to this book is Chicago is a long way from the battlefields. I would have no hesitation in buying this book if I was visiting Chicago, and overall found it to be fascinating little insight into the local history of Chicago.