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Schwartz (sociology, emeritus, Univ. of Georgia) continues his investigation of Lincoln's place in American memory and meaning with this second volume in his projected three-volume study. Here he studies Lincoln's image roughly from the 1920s to the present, with an emphasis on survey research from the post-World War II era. Schwartz argues that over the past 75 years, Lincoln's image in Americans' collective memory has contracted from savior of the Union, reconciler of sections, emancipator, and advocate of equality and justice to being principally emancipator, with even that role contested as to the extent and purpose of Lincoln's push toward freedom. Schwartz attributes this shrinking of Lincoln's stature to such factors as Americans' collective self-doubt, distrust of "great men," cynicism, fading nationalism, and self-absorption, in the midst of a growing collective emphasis on multiculturalism, postmodern relativism, and declining belief in human "greatness." If Schwartz overstates his case for the supposed weakening of faith in greatness by ignoring new heroes of collective memory such as Martin Luther King, Jr., he makes many important points about the contingency of public respect for its past and its heroes. In the end, Lincoln still stands tallest, but a diverse people don't look up to him alone as exemplar of all they hold dear. Provocative and disturbing; recommended for university and large public libraries.
—Randall M. Miller