A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012 - History - 344 pages
56 Reviews

Often forgotten and overlooked, the U.S.-Mexican War featured false starts, atrocities, and daring back-channel negotiations as it divided the nation, paved the way for the Civil War a generation later, and launched the career of Abraham Lincoln. Amy S. Greenberg’s skilled storytelling and rigorous scholarship bring this American war for empire to life with memorable characters, plotlines, and legacies.   

When President James K. Polk compelled a divided Congress to support his war with Mexico, it was the first time that the young American nation would engage another republic in battle. Caught up in the conflict and the political furor surrounding it were Abraham Lincoln, then a new congressman; Polk, the dour president committed to territorial expansion at any cost; and Henry Clay, the aging statesman whose presidential hopes had been frustrated once again, but who still harbored influence and had one last great speech up his sleeve. Beyond these illustrious figures, A Wicked War follows several fascinating and long-neglected characters: Lincoln’s archrival John Hardin, whose death opened the door to Lincoln’s rise; Nicholas Trist, gentleman diplomat and secret negotiator, who broke with his president to negotiate a fair peace; and Polk’s wife, Sarah, whose shrewd politicking was crucial in the Oval Office.

This definitive history of the 1846 conflict paints an intimate portrait of the major players and their world. It is a story of Indian fights, Manifest Destiny, secret military maneuvers, gunshot wounds, and political spin. Along the way it captures a young Lincoln mismatching his clothes, the lasting influence of the Founding Fathers, the birth of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and America’s first national antiwar movement. A key chapter in the creation of the United States, it is the story of a burgeoning nation and an unforgettable conflict that has shaped American history.  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
17
4 stars
26
3 stars
12
2 stars
0
1 star
1

Review: A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 US Invasion of Mexico

User Review  - José Angel - Goodreads

Page turner with notes. Learned some new things about the impact of the war on the US, especially New England and the Midwest via several bios, but much of the Mexicanist perspective is lost if not all together ignored... Read full review

Review: A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 US Invasion of Mexico

User Review  - Allen Garvin - Goodreads

A short but terrific and engaging book book on America's war against Mexico. It's considered largely a forgotten war today, though we people in Texas know of it because we all went through multiple ... Read full review

All 6 reviews »

Related books

Other editions - View all

About the author (2012)

Amy S. Greenberg is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Women's Studies at Penn State University. She is a leading scholar of Manifest Destiny and has held fellowships from the Huntington Library, the New-York Historical Society, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society. Her previous books include Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire and Cause for Alarm: The Volunteer Fire Department in the Nineteenth-Century City.

Bibliographic information