gall and gumption

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Abraham Lincoln the Writer

Bob says it's a good book. You can read his review in the SF Chronicle here.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, he was caricatured as a yokel, and in spite of the published evidence that the man could write and think (in 1858 he had taken on the savvy, slightly slimy Sen. Stephen Douglas in a series of debates that were collected and widely published), it took a year or two of captivating wartime speeches, messages and letters for Northeastern intellectuals to catch on "how a man with no formal education, scant familiarity with polite society, and a 'peculiar' way of expressing himself could be, at the same time, so unorthodox and so effective. ... In Abraham Lincoln they were forced to come to terms with a man who read lowbrow comic writers to his cabinet and had a reputation for telling dirty stories, yet could write better, nobler, and more inspiring prose than any of them."


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