Dirck, Brian R. 1965–

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Dirck, Brian R. 1965–


Born 1965. Education: University of Central Arkansas, B.A.; Rice University, M.A.; University of Kansas, Ph.D., 1998.


Home—Fishers, IN. Office—History Department, Anderson University, 100 E. 5th St., Anderson, IN 46012. E-mail—[email protected].


Historian, educator, and writer. Anderson University, Anderson, IN, began as assistant professor, became professor.


Lincoln and Davis: Imagining America, 1809-1865, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2001.

Waging War on Trial: A Handbook with Cases, Laws, and Documents, ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 2003, published as Waging War on Trial: A Sourcebook with Cases, Laws, and Documents, Hackett Publishing (Indianapolis, IN), 2003.

The Executive Branch of Federal Government: People, Process, and Politics, ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 2007.

(Editor and contributor) Lincoln Emancipated: The President and the Politics of Race, foreword by Allen C. Guelzo, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 2007.

Lincoln the Lawyer, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2007.

Also author of blog A Lincoln Blog.


Brian R. Dirck is an historian who has written extensively about Abraham Lincoln. In his 2001 book, Lincoln and Davis: Imagining America, 1809-1865, the author presents dual and contrasting biographies of the leaders of the North and South during the Civil War. "Dirck does not offer complete biographies, but his well-written work places Lincoln and Davis side by side to examine their world views," wrote Russell H. Allen in History: Review of New Books. Allen went on to note that the book "is psychohistory, as it studies forces that developed personal characteristics that determined human ideas and actions." Among the factors that the author explores concerning the opposing presidents are political stances, religious believes, and philosophies about war. In the process the author reveals what he sees as very different world views held by the two men, with Lincoln being more rational and legally oriented in his thinking while Davis revealed himself to be a much more emotional man who relied heavily on his personal beliefs. "Lincoln and Davis is thoughtful, provocative, well written, and extensively documented (it contains over fifty pages of notes)," wrote John S. Robey in Perspectives on Political Science. Robey also wrote in the same review: "Dirck presents us with a compelling revision of Davis, demonstrating that many of Davis's ideals were eventually incorporated into the American mosaic." A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked that the author "does present a provocative and potentially fruitful new interpretation of U.S. culture and intellectual history."

Dirck is also editor of and contributor to Lincoln Emancipated: The President and the Politics of Race, which presents essays by academics who specialize in Lincoln. In essays focusing on Lincoln's views of slavery and race, some essayists found that Lincoln's desire to free the slaves was not all-encompassing. They write that Lincoln stated that his primary intention during the Civil War was to keep the Union united, whether that meant freeing the slaves or not. Overall, the essays take a wide-ranging view of Lincoln, from Lincoln as a racist within the confines of his times to a man who showed an evolution in thinking about racism and slavery. The author's essay, "Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation, and the Supreme Court," focuses on various proposals concerning emancipation made by Lincoln in 1862, including the Emancipation Proclamation and Lincoln's efforts to pressure both border states and the U.S. Congress to gradually enact laws that would lead to the end of slavery. "The volume [Dirck] has edited in no way amounts to hagiography," wrote Peter Bridges on the California Literary Review Web site. "It is a useful addition to Lincolniana." Craig Buettinger, writing on the HNN: History News Network Web site, commented that "this volume takes the side that Lincoln was a progressive thinker who necessarily trimmed his policies to get by the societal racism, the Chief Justice, and the proslavery, border-state Unionists."



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June, 2002, R.A. Fischer, review of Lincoln and Davis: Imagining America, 1809-1865, p. 1863.

Chronicle of Higher Education, November 16, 2001, review of Lincoln and Davis.

Civil War History, March, 2003, Daniel Walker Howe, review of Lincoln and Davis, p. 94.

History: Review of New Books, winter, 2002, Russell H. Allen, review of Lincoln and Davis, p. 52.

Internet Bookwatch, July, 2007, review of Lincoln Emancipated: The President and the Politics of Race.

Journal of American History, September, 2002, David Herbert Donald, review of Lincoln and Davis, p. 638.

Journal of Southern History, August, 2003, Michael Fellman, review of Lincoln and Davis, p. 695.

Library Journal, October 15, 2001, John Carver Edwards, review of Lincoln and Davis, p. 90.

Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 2002, John S. Robey, review of Lincoln and Davis.

Publishers Weekly, October 8, 2001, review of Lincoln and Davis, p. 58.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2003, review of Waging War on Trial: A Handbook with Cases, Laws, and Documents, p. 182.


Anderson University Web site,http://www.anderson.edu/ (October 7, 2007), faculty profile of author.

California Literary Review,http://calitreview.com/ (June 10, 2007), Peter Bridges, review of Lincoln Emancipated.

HNN: History News Network,http://hnn.us/ (August 28, 2007), Craig Buettinger, review of Lincoln Emancipated.