Episode for February 17, 2022
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John Avlon is a senior political analyst and anchor at CNN. He is an award-winning columnist and the author of Independent Nation, Wingnuts, and Washington’s Farewell. Previously, he was the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast and served as chief speechwriter for the Mayor of New York during the attacks of 9/11. He lives with his wife Margaret Hoover and their two children in New York.
A groundbreaking, revelatory history of Abraham Lincoln’s plan to secure a just and lasting peace after the Civil War—a vision that inspired future presidents as well as the world’s most famous peacemakers, including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a story of war and peace, race and reconciliation.
As the tide of the Civil War turned in the spring of 1865, Abraham Lincoln took a dangerous two-week trip to visit the troops on the front lines accompanied by his young son, seeing combat up close, meeting liberated slaves in the ruins of Richmond, and comforting wounded Union and Confederate soldiers.
The power of Lincoln’s personal example in the closing days of the war offers a portrait of a peacemaker. He did not demonize people he disagreed with. He used humor, logic, and scripture to depolarize bitter debates. Balancing moral courage with moderation, Lincoln believed that decency could be the most practical form of politics, but he understood that people were more inclined to listen to reason when greeted from a position of strength. Ulysses S. Grant’s famously generous terms of surrender to General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox that April were a direct expression of the president’s belief that a soft peace should follow a hard war.
While his assassination sent the country careening off course, Lincoln’s vision would be vindicated long after his death, inspiring future generations in their own quests to secure a just and lasting peace. As US General Lucius Clay, architect of the post-WWII German occupation, said when asked what guided his decisions: “I tried to think of the kind of occupation the South would have had if Abraham Lincoln had lived.”
Lincoln and the Fight for Peace reveals how Lincoln’s character informed his commitment to unconditional surrender followed by a magnanimous peace. Even during the Civil War, surrounded by reactionaries and radicals, he refused to back down from his belief that there is more that unites us than divides us. But he also understood that peace needs to be waged with as much intensity as war. Lincoln’s plan to win the peace is his unfinished symphony, but in its existing notes, we can find an anthem that can begin to bridge our divisions today.
Ryan Busse is a former firearms executive who helped build one of the world’s most iconic gun companies, and was nominated multiple times by industry colleagues for the prestigious Shooting Industry Person of The Year Award. Busse is an environmental advocate who served in many leadership roles for conservation organizations, including as an advisor for the United States Senate Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Biden Presidential Campaign. He remains a proud outdoorsman, gun owner, father, and resident of Montana.
About the book….
A long-time former executive at one of the country’s top gun manufacturers reveals how his industry radicalized a large swathe of America, and explains how it must change before we can reduce gun violence and heal as a nation.
Ryan Busse has traveled a long, circuitous path along the American gun journey. As an avid hunter, outdoorsman, and conservationist–all things that the firearms industry was built on–he rose to the highest ranks of the rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar firearms industry.
But replacing self-imposed decency with rampant fear-mongering, racism, hardline conservative politics, massive profits from semi-automatic weapons sales, and McCarthyesque policing have driven Busse to do something few other gun executives have done: he’s ending his 30-year career in the industry to tell its secrets. He watched the industry change from its smaller, less corporate and far-less-powerful form to the partisan, power-hungry entity it is today. He thought he could go up against the power of the industry from within, and over the years had made small inroads toward sensible gun ownership and use. But that’s simply not possible anymore.
This book is an insider’s call-out, a voice-driven tale of personal transformation, and a fast ride through wild times and colorful characters that populate a much-speculated-about, but little-known industry. It’s also a story of how authoritarianism spreads in the guise of freedom, how voicing one’s conscience becomes an act of treason in a culture that demands sameness and loyalty.