Harcourt Brace & Company: NY, 1993.
Years ago I compiled a list of books to read for a unit study on the American Civil War. I haven't posted it yet, because I made the list before I started reviewing books. I wanted to reread and review first. Somehow this book escaped my notice at the time. Odd, considering Meltzer is one of my favorite historians.
Because I have read several books on Lincoln, there was not much new to me in this one. It does cover the important points, and since the approach is different it adds in some ways also. Meltzer has a series of books in which he uses the speaker or writer's words for perspective regarding the person's character and deeds. This works perfectly for Lincoln because he was a fluent and eloquent communicator-spoken and written. He is one of the few in history that stands out for his speaking and writing skills, and he is accessible to the average person.
Certain words of his reach out to me across time and still seem appropriate and right. For ex., he made a statement, which I hadn't heard before, against preemptive war as a Congressman regarding the war with Mexico. Given that the book was published in 1993, I found that interesting. Before G. W. Bush I had never thought about the issue. I would guess his words seem so right, because he was contemplative and analytical, not just spouting off. He was principled and stuck to his principles amid chaos, and he used his own words, which is rare nowadays. What I have read of his speeches makes me want to read more. What else did he say that others didn't care enough to note?
A wonderful surprise is the graphics in the book. They aren't necessary, but they are beautifully done. There are black and white, full page, engraving style prints-many of them portraits. They incorporate motifs of the period. The chapter heads are bordered with monotone, block prints. Much of the graphics remind me of quilting and embroidery from that time. Even some of the portraits have motifs within them. A friend who saw the title said she thought it sounded boring. But when she opened the book, she was amazed by the graphics. She studied them for a while and took down the name of the book for future reference. I know that I have seen the illustrator's work before in historical books and will search for more.
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