Sunday, November 2, 2008

A look at some new Lincoln books

As I work today to finish pulling together my paper on Abraham Lincoln and his mentors, I wasn't going to take the time to write a blog post from scratch myself. I was just going to draw attention to an article by Desmond Ryan in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Ryan's "A. Lincoln turning 200: Books on him keep coming; here's a sampling" provides an overview of nine of the dozens of books on Lincoln coming out within the next year. Of course, as I set out to do that in a few words, I realized I had much to tell you myself about these authors and their books.

An all star cast
I've only got first-hand knowledge of one of these books, but I've met or heard several of the other authors speak at some of the Lincoln scholarly events I've been privileged to attend. These scholars/enthusiasts are Harold Holzer, James McPherson, Gary Ecelbarger, Brian Lamb and Ronald C. White, Jr. Each of these gentlemen is committed to keeping the legacy of Lincoln alive, doing so with accuracy and passion, while earning and keeping the respect of their peers. Any of their books will be a welcome addition to your Lincoln library and a great read, I'm sure.

My lack of familiarity with the other authors in no way negates or diminishes their contributions. It just shows how much work is being done in this area, and how far behind I am in learning all the contributors. Susan Swain, Lamb's co-editor, is also a C-SPAN legend. In her work with the network, she collaborated on The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 series, American Presidents: Life Portraits, and American Writers II: The 20th Century. I can't wait to read Lamb and Swain's anthology of interviews with Lincoln historians.

Eric Foner's book collecting essays with new perspectives by other brilliant Lincoln scholars will certainly be an interesting read, while Fred Kaplan's study of Lincoln as a writer will focus on what I've always felt was one of Lincoln's greatest gifts and strengths. John Stauffer's book parallels the lives of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass and is sure to shed new perspectives on this important relationship.

Ladies and gentlemen - start your reading
So, head to your library or your local bookstore, or get your Christmas wish list ready. With all these new Lincoln books on the shelves, there's no excuse not to celebrate the Bicentennial of his birth (Feb. 12. 2009) by learning more.

© Copyright 2008 Ann Tracy Mueller. All rights reserved.

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