Lincoln on Lincoln

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Overview

" Though Abraham Lincoln has been the subject of numerous biographies, his personality remains an enigma. During his lifetime, Lincoln prepared two sketches of his life for the 1860 presidential race. These brief campaign portraits serve as the core around which Paul Zall weaves extracts from correspondence, speeches, and interviews to produce an in-depth biography. Lincoln's writing about himself offers a window into the soul and mind of one of America's greatest president. His words reveal an emotional evolution typically submerged in political ...
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Lincoln on Lincoln

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Overview

" Though Abraham Lincoln has been the subject of numerous biographies, his personality remains an enigma. During his lifetime, Lincoln prepared two sketches of his life for the 1860 presidential race. These brief campaign portraits serve as the core around which Paul Zall weaves extracts from correspondence, speeches, and interviews to produce an in-depth biography. Lincoln's writing about himself offers a window into the soul and mind of one of America's greatest president. His words reveal an emotional evolution typically submerged in political biographies. Lincoln on Lincoln shows a man struggling to reconcile personal ambition and civic virtue, conscience and Constitution, and ultimately the will of God and the will of the people. Zall frames Lincoln's words with his own illuminating commentary, providing a continuous, compelling narrative. Beginning with Lincoln's thoughts on his parents, the story moves though his youth and early successes and failures in law and politics, and culminates in his clashes and conflicts--internal as well as external--as president of a divided country. Through his writings, Lincoln said much more about himself than is commonly recognized, and Zall uses this material to create a unique portrait of this pivotal figure.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Excerpts from Lincoln's autobiographical writings, some quite brief, selected, edited, and annotated by Zall, a senior researcher at the Huntington Library. Zall wants these passages culled from letters and other sources to provide "a story of Lincoln's life in his own words." Unfortunately, the 16th president was not loquacious, certainly not about his quotidian life, so he reveals little. As Zall admits, "He was not the kind of person to bare his soul in public or in private." We do learn to share the young Lincoln's excitement when he earns his first dollar; we cringe as he consents to sew shut the eyes of some intransigent hogs; we laugh at some of the doggerel he composes about his rural background ("When first my father settled here, / ‘Twas then the frontier line: / The panther's scream, filled night with fear / And bears preyed on the swine"); we admire him for his stand on slavery (the sight of slaves was "a continual torment to me," he notes); and we tremble with the dramatic irony of a vision he has in late 1860: in the mirror he sees a faint second image alongside the first, and his wife believes it's a dark harbinger of his death. Zall reminds us that Lincoln won only 40 percent of the popular vote in 1860, that he freed slaves only in the states that had seceded, that he was in some ways a reluctant candidate. What does not emerge in these excerpts, however, is any sense of why Lincoln came to be who he was. Why did he not simply remain a farmer? Why did he struggle so hard to educate himself? Why did he want to enter politics? Whence his fierce humanism? Abe may have been honest, but about his own character, he was none too candid. A collection that casts astrong light, but so much of it falls behind the president that shadows obscure his face—and much of his character.
From the Publisher
"It is both a surprise and a pleasure to have this new collection, offered as the next-best-thing to a genuine autobiography, expertly pieced together from Lincoln's known speeches and letters to simulate the narrative flow of a life story." — Blue & Gray Magazine

"Kentucky Monthly An artful biography of Lincoln... spliced together from interview, memoir, and speech excerpts, but always in the slain president's own words." — Civil War Book Review

"All the wisdom and insight that we have come to value in the man who presides over the temple at the west end of the Capital Mall." — Civil War Courier

"Adds to our understanding of Abraham Lincoln by demonstrating how consistent he was in his self-image and self-description." — Civil War History

"It is fun to have Lincoln's personal musings on Lincoln gathered so neatly into one place." — Civil War News

"The autobiography Lincoln never had the chance to write. The way in which Zall has blended together various sources is very clever." — James McPherson

"We do learn to share the young Lincoln's excitement when he earns his first dollar; we cringe as he consents to sew shut the eyes of some intransigent hogs; we laugh at some of the doggerel he composes about his rural background.... A collection that casts a strong light." — Kirkus Reviews

"Zall's Lincoln 'autobiography' gives a strong sense of Lincoln's personal style, practical idealism, and poetic wordsmanship." — Library Journal

"A handsome book." — Lincoln Herald

"Handily provides interested readers with autobiographical gleanings from the vast corpus of Lincolniana." — North Carolina Historical Review

"The book is accurate, even meticulous in its selections. There is nothing unreliable." — South Carolina Historical Magazine

"An absorbing trip into the mind of America's greatest president." — Southern Historian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813190624
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 9/21/2003
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 0.49 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2000

    Why?

    The reason many, including top scholars, historians, etc., are fascinated by A. Lincoln, is not only that he is probably the greatest President of The U.S.A., had a genius mind with massive mental capabilities, but simply that no one can figure him out. Jesse

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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