The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows

The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows

by Gabor Boritt
     
 

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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,… See more details below

Overview

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

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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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743288217
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
02/05/2008
Series:
Simon and Schuster Lincoln Library Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
500,758
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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