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The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech that Nobody Knows | [Gabor Boritt]

The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech that Nobody Knows

The literature of the Gettysburg Address tends to fall into one of two extremes. At one end are those books that maintain that Lincoln wrote his speech hastily, even on a scrap of paper on the train en route from Washington to Gettysburg. In this version, Lincoln delivered his remarks to an uncomprehending public, which applauded politely, failing to appreciate his genius. Many of the books that argued this point of view are out of print today, but the myths and legends live on.
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Publisher's Summary

The literature of the Gettysburg Address tends to fall into one of two extremes. At one end are those books that maintain that Lincoln wrote his speech hastily, even on a scrap of paper on the train en route from Washington to Gettysburg. In this version, Lincoln delivered his remarks to an uncomprehending public, which applauded politely, failing to appreciate his genius. Many of the books that argued this point of view are out of print today, but the myths and legends live on.

At the other end of the spectrum are those books that argue that Lincoln's remarks were written with great care and that they altered the course of the Civil War, even of the country. This point of view exalts the Gettysburg Address at the expense of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been made public 11 months earlier.

Gabor Boritt, a Lincoln and Civil War scholar who teaches at Gettysburg College and lives in an old farmhouse adjacent to the battlefield, says that Lincoln's remarks were written rapidly, though not at the last minute, and they received attention, though not nearly so much attention as the lengthy remarks of the featured speaker, Edward Everett. But Lincoln's address was largely forgotten for decades afterward. It had no effect on the Civil War, and played no role in American history until the 20th century.

Boritt's narrative covers the events of the day, November 19, 1863, as well as the events preceding and following the dedication of the soldiers' cemetery, which was the occasion for Lincoln's remarks. He also describes the conditions in Gettysburg in the aftermath of the battle: the stench of rotting corpses of horses and mules filling the air, wounded soldiers occupying hospitals and houses everywhere, and damage to roads and houses that was still being repaired when the cemetery was dedicated.

©2006 Gabor Boritt; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[An] engrossing study....This elegant account will delight readers." (Publishers Weekly)
"Boritt's account has a freshness appealing in such an exhaustively examined subject." (Booklist)

What Members Say

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  •  
    D. Littman OH 01-26-07
    D. Littman OH 01-26-07 Member Since 2003

    history buff

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "add this to your Lincoln bookshelf"

    Boritt's "Gettysburg Gospel" is a valuable addition to anyone's Civil War or Lincoln bookshelf. Boritt successfully differentiates his work from the thousands, no tens of thousands of others in this genre by focusing on the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, what the participants & observers in the post-battle period did & thought, where the famous dedication ceremony fits, in its time, in the next 20 years &, eventually, in the next 150 years. How Edward Everett's keynote was viewed at the time, and later. How the legend of Lincoln's words was built & continuously reinterpreted in subsequent eras. Boritt is an excellent word painter -- the book is narrative & analytical history, but he pulls the reader (listener) into the story so you hardly notice the minutes ticking by. Boritt's work may not be the very best one on the roots of Lincoln's speech, but it does a good job nonetheless, without bogging the reader down in philosophical & theological discussion.

    The final section of the book, a textual analysis of materials from the dedication day, is probably best read in the book itself, or read & listened to simultaneously. This only represents the last 10% - 15% of the audiobook.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 06-13-07
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 06-13-07 Member Since 2004
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    "Excellent"

    This is an extensively researched and concisely written book. Boritt goes back to countless original sources. He debunks many popular myths about the speech. More important though, he places the Gettysburg Address in its time and place and brings the speech alive.

    Boritt also reviews the reactions to the speech, both contemporaneous and over the succeeding century and a half, as well as the uses to which the Address has been, and is still being put.

    He also includes Edward Everett's speech at the cemetery dedication, which was quite good in its own right. Without his fuller exposition, the beauty, simplicity and directness of Lincoln's address would not have been possible.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth B. Robinson ramsey, MN USA 07-31-07
    Kenneth B. Robinson ramsey, MN USA 07-31-07 Member Since 2003

    nesheimbru

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    "gettysburg in love"

    I have just finished a tour of the battlefield and lots of reading on lincoln and the era after. And yet this account was entralling as it recounted the area which I had just visited. Still it is the best historical work I have read. a passion for truth which is all too rare.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terri Jefferson City, MO, USA 03-07-07
    Terri Jefferson City, MO, USA 03-07-07 Member Since 2005
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    "Fantastic!!!"

    I loved this book! I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to get an understanding of our nation, then and now. The author does a wonderful job of putting the reader in Gettysburg in 1863. Understanding what the people of that town, and the nation, were thinking and feeling is essential when trying to understand how the address was initially received. And how was it received? We may never really know, but after having listened to this book my views of Lincoln and his relevance today has been reaffirmed!!! Thank you!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki Broken Arrow, OK, USA 06-19-07
    Vicki Broken Arrow, OK, USA 06-19-07
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    "Good history listen"

    I really liked the first half of the book the best, especially the accounts of the battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath. It was so interesting to think about the personal aspect of what happened to the city. On the whole, I thought this was a worthwhile read, but the last parts dragged on.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce Monterey, MA, United States 04-01-14
    Joyce Monterey, MA, United States 04-01-14 Member Since 2004

    Old Reader

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    "READ THIS BOOK"

    Wow! What a joy this book is and wonderfully read to us by Michael Kramer. I now very much want to visit to Gettysburg.

    Gabor Boritt gives full credit to Garry Wills (I made sure of that before I bought the book) who wrote "Lincoln At Gettysburg". Boritt gives us the full spectrum between Wills' scholarship and the various contradictory tales of the original origin of the great dedication.

    Like it or not you find yourself, with Honest beloved Abe, placed in Gettysburg in 1863.

    There's not a dull moment. What I found very interesting and embarressing to myself, was how great is the Edward Everett speech. In my ignorance I had always assumed it to be a "rant". It appears (could it be in its entirety, perhaps as an appendix?) at the end. I have never have been able to READ through it, but listening to it makes all the difference. I think not being able to see all that close packed prose makes it easy and wonderful. Sorry, but there it is.

    In his two hour dissertation Everett describes minutely the 3 day horror, the causes of the War, and what is "rebellion" and what is not.

    Furthermore, he makes clear how lucky we were and are, as a nation, to have had President Lincoln there at that time. He was such a great and gentle politician. For example, he always referred to the Confederates as "rebels" rather than "traitors" which a less wise man might have done. Nothing in this book is superficial and much new about this great President is brought to light.

    I can't stop listening to it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-18-14
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-18-14 Member Since 2011

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

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    "The story of the eternal impact of 272 words"

    Gives the back story of the events leading up to Gettysburg, through the speech to the evolving impact over the years. It was barely recognized at the time but has become immortal words of the event molded by factions around the world to justify their causes ever since. The evidence of slightly different versions of the speech all penned by Lincoln as well as the various forgeries pro ported to be originals was interesting as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Murrieta, CA, United States 03-18-14
    Rick Murrieta, CA, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2011

    Rick H.

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    "Not just another novel about Gettysburg..."

    This one kind of caught me off guard and I'm pleased to say, was very surprising and refreshing. It in fact is NOT another novel about Gettysburg but rather the aftermath and then the arguments about when and how the Gettysburg Address was written and delivered by Lincoln. For me, a Civil War enthusiast, learning about the aftermath, and how the townspeople dealt with the cleanup from the battle was remarkable and captivating and the author does an excellent job of conveying the feeling of the citizens and their depth of their despair to the reader.

    When I saw the title I was a bit nervous. I mean, how many different ways can you slice and dissect the battle? Moreover, how many countless stories does one must read about Lincoln to get the gist of what happened in Pennsylvania in 1863? It was huge relief to learn what the author had to share without being bored. There were a few moments when he almost lost me but by and large the book had my attention. And the narrator, Kramer does a great job in telling the story which adds to the enjoyment of this title.

    If you're a Civil War buff like me, interested in Lincoln, or history as a whole and want to learn something different about Gettysburg, the people, and the speech made by Lincoln for the cemetery dedication now inscribed on his Washington Memorial, then don't hesitate in picking this one up. It's well worth the time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Paul Cambria, CA, United States 03-13-14
    Paul Cambria, CA, United States 03-13-14 Member Since 2010
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    "A Disappointment"

    I had very high hopes about this book. The beginning was great, but it went down hill from there. The author obviously did a great job researching the material. The descriptions are good, but it gets tedious. Very tedious. Every now and then there is a nice nugget, but the book was overall very repetitive and should've been cut in half. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like this book, I ended up not even finishing it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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