The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows


The words Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg comprise perhaps the most famous speech in history. Many books have been written about the Gettysburg Address and yet, as Lincoln scholar Gabor Boritt shows, there is much that we don't know about the speech. In The Gettysburg Gospel he tears away a century of myths, lies, and legends to give us a clear understanding of the greatest American's greatest speech.

In the aftermath of ...

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The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows

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The words Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg comprise perhaps the most famous speech in history. Many books have been written about the Gettysburg Address and yet, as Lincoln scholar Gabor Boritt shows, there is much that we don't know about the speech. In The Gettysburg Gospel he tears away a century of myths, lies, and legends to give us a clear understanding of the greatest American's greatest speech.

In the aftermath of the bloodiest battle ever fought in North America, the little town of Gettysburg was overwhelmed. This was where Lincoln had to come to explain why the horror of war must continue. Boritt shows how Lincoln responded to the politics of the time, as well as how and when he wrote the various versions of his remarks. Few people initially recognized the importance of the speech, but over the years it would grow into American scripture, acquiring new and broader meanings.

Based on years of scholarship as well as a deep understanding of Lincoln and of Gettysburg itself, The Gettysburg Gospel is an indispensable book for anyone interested in the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln, the CivilWar, or American history.

About the Author:
Gabor Boritt is the Robert Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and Director of the CivilWar Institute at Gettysburg College

* Mp3 CD Format *. The literature of the Gettysburg Address tends to fall into one of two extremes. At one end are those books that maintain that Lincoln wrote his speech hastily, even on a scrap of paper on the train en route from Washington to Gettysburg. In this version, Lincoln delivered his remarks to an uncomprehending public, which applauded politely, failing to appreciate his genius. Many of the books that argued this point of view are out of print today, but the myths and legends live on.Boritt's vivid narrative will be filled with colorful, little-known details. It will recreate the events, but it will also assess the significance of Lincoln's remarks and place them in their proper historical context as no book has before, showing how the remarks that were quickly forgotten took on a new life decades later and became the most famous speech in American history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this engrossing study, Civil War scholar Boritt (editor of The Lincoln Enigma) offers a revealing history of that most famous piece of American oratory, the Gettysburg Address. Boritt opens with an evocative description of a stench-filled, corpse-strewn Gettysburg on July 4, 1863, after the battle. When Lincoln arrived a few months later to dedicate the national cemetery, he had an important task: "to explain to the people," writes Borritt, in plain, powerful prose, "why the bloodletting must go on." After vividly recreating the delivery of the address, Boritt discusses the speech's mixed reception. Republican newspapers praised it; Democrats, viewing it as the beginning of Lincoln's re-election campaign, belittled or tried to ignore it; one Democratic newspaper called the speech a "mawkish harangue." Just as bad, Lincoln's graceful oratory was garbled in transmission to newspapers. Most interesting is Boritt's recounting of how, after Lincoln's assassination, the speech was mostly forgotten until the 1880s, when Gettysburg increasingly became a symbol of a reunion between North and South, and the Gettysburg Address took on the sheen of America's "sacred scriptures." Lincoln's poetic language, says Boritt, helps the speech live on, and the message of "sacrificial redemption" still speaks to Americans today. This elegant account will delight readers who enjoyed Garry Wills's Lincoln at Gettysburg. (Lengthy appendixes parsing drafts of the speech, however, will interest mainly aficionados.) 16 pages of b&w illus., and b&w illus. throughout. (Nov. 19) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Boritt (Civil War studies, Gettysburg Coll.) manages to offer a fresh perspective on one of America's most famous speeches-which was not the main event at the cemetery dedication at Gettysburg in November 1863, four months after the battle-even though it has already been studied extensively. The author sets the speech in its contemporary context and, most interestingly, demonstrates that it was not only minimally noticed by Lincoln's peers and the press at the time but was virtually forgotten to history until the 20th century. He addresses many of the myths surrounding the address, such as that Lincoln wrote it in haste on the train to Gettysburg. In fact, it went through a number of careful revisions. He includes images of the known copies of the handwritten address, broadsides and programs relating to the dedication ceremony at Gettysburg, selections of photos from the era, and a line-by-line analysis of the various drafts of the address. Boritt's narrative style will appeal to lay readers, perhaps more so than Garry Wills's Lincoln at Gettysburg, while his extensive research and insightful conclusions will appeal to scholars. Recommended especially for libraries with a special interest in Lincoln and Civil War history.-Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ., PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
""Elegant and absorbing...a definitive book." ---David Herbert Donald, author of Lincoln
Library Journal
To demonstrate Lincoln's writing craft, Boritt places his speech in the context of the Battle of Gettysburg, the town of Gettysburg, PA, and the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery. This compelling account analyzes several drafts of the speech and compares various ways it has been reported. (LJ 11/15/06)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743288217
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/5/2008
  • Series: Simon and Schuster Lincoln Library Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 690,509
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Audiobook veteran Michael Kramer has recorded more than two hundred audiobooks for trade publishers and many more for the Library of Congress Talking Books program. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner and an Audie Award nominee, he earned a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award for his reading of Savages by Don Winslow.
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Table of Contents

Preface     1
After Battle     5
Rebirth     31
Lincoln Comes to Gettysburg     49
Carousing Crowds     69
The Gettysburg Gospel     91
Echoes     130
Gloria     163
Coda     204
Appendixes     207
The Program at the Soldiers' National Cemetery, November 19, 1863     207
A Beautiful Hand: Facsimiles of the Five Versions of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's Hand     245
Parsing Lincoln     256
Dollar Signs     287
Notes     293
A Bibliographic Note: Dwarfs and Giants     377
Acknowledgments     394
Index     403
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    Just In Case You Think You've Read It All...

    As a "Gettysburg" fanatic, I thought there could be little left for me to learn about anything connected to the battle. I had even written a book for teachers about how to use The Killer Angels in the classrom. Well, wasn't I knocked off my smug little pedestal when I read this one!? The opening chapters in particular give a fresh, and for some, I imagine, new insight into the days and weeks after the battle. Boritt draws the scenes of wreckage and slaughter so clearly one cannot help but be moved and his research into the realities of Lincoln's Address is rewarding for even the most casual reader. The prose style is never pedantic but rather almost conversational and engaging. I recommend this for anyone interested in the battle, whether new to that interest or an "old hand."

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    Posted July 16, 2011

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