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Lincoln As I Knew Him : Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies
Forget what you think you know about Abraham Lincoln. Yes, he was a brilliant orator, a shrewd politician, and a determined leader who guided us through the bloodiest war in American history. But he also was a terrible dresser, rarely bothered to comb his hair, annoyed his colleagues by constantly reading out loud, loved raunchy stories, and let his kids run all over him.
Author and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer sifted through nineteenth-century letters, diary entries, books, and speeches written by people who knew Lincoln and offers up the real skinny on the man who was arguably America's greatest president. From the famous--Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Ulysses S. Grant--to the not-so-famous--White House secretaries, artists, bodyguards, childhood pals, and a rejected fiance--this collection presents a revealing, and at times contradictory, view of our sixteenth president, from his boyhood through his White House years. These firsthand anecdotes and recollections strip away the myths and legends to uncover the authentic Abraham Lincoln before the history books got hold of him.
Holzer, compiler of previous Lincoln books (Lincoln on Democracy, etc.), has found a new approach to this most revered yet enigmatic of presidents. He delves into Lincoln's character through the revelations of those who knew himAsome well, some who met him only once. Holzer located memories from 11 classes of people: family members, personal and political friends, fellow lawyers, journalists and humorists, foreign observers, enemies, military men, authors, artists, African-Americans and White House intimates. One journalist wrote that Lincoln "never hesitated to tell a coarse or even outright nasty story." An old friend observed that he "had no superhuman qualities (which we call genius) but he had those which belong to mankind in general in an astonishing degree." General George McClellan wrote, "The President is nothing but a well meaning baboon." Frederick Douglass, who thought the president too slow to emancipate the slaves and called him "preeminently the white man's president," granted that Lincoln's personal conduct was marked by "his entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race." Careful to screen out apocryphal accounts that spread after Lincoln had become famous, Holzer presents a collection that sheds light not only on Lincoln but also on his timesAtimes that tried many souls. It is inspiring, based on Holzer's selections, to learn how much Lincoln helped to heal those souls.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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February 09, 2009
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