What kind of law did Lincoln practice? Did he imprison his political enemies? What was it in his youth that put him on the path to greatness? These are some of the hundreds of questions that Gerald J. Prokopowicz was asked most often during the nine years he served as scholar-in-residence at the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In this book, he organizes the questions along the timeline of Lincoln's life to give us a portrait of the 16th president unlike any we have had before.
The questions range far and wide in subject matter and seriousness. Some are inspired by recent reinterpretations of Lincoln's actions ("Was he a racist?"), and some delve into what previous generations considered inappropriate ("Was he gay?"). Some are products of scholarly investigation ("If he were alive today, could he get elected?") and others of idle curiosity ("What were his favorite foods?"). Some are drawn from today's headlines ("Did his presidential actions violate the Constitution?") and others from today's tabloids ("Did doctors really raise him from the dead?"). Prokopowicz's authoritative, often surprising responses illuminate facets of Abraham Lincoln's life, work, and legacy about which people remain endlessly curious.
The author makes it very easy and interesting to discover Abraham Lincoln. If your a Lincoln fan you will enjoy the style of writing, and the easy pace Norman Dietz lays it out.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Well written and well read.
I've always been an admirer of Lincoln but this is my first book about the man. It was a perfect book for a Lincoln neophyte like me, presenting questions in FAQ form and then answering them thoughtfully. I found it enlightening and entertaining.
The author obviously is a great admirer of Lincoln, but he honestly answers the "hard" questions, such as whether Lincoln owned slaves or was a "racist", without sugar coating. Lincoln was neither the saintly emancipator of his admirers nor the racist political opportunist of his detractors; rather, he was just an intelligent, thoughtful, driven man who somehow managed to strike the ideal balance between ideology and pragmatism, saving a great nation in the process.
Particularly compelling are the dissections of Lincoln's speeches on race, how he walked a political tightrope in order to stay true to his convictions while appealing to racist white voters. Unfortunately, some modern historians take these quotes out of time and context, and miss the point completely: Lincoln knew that he needed to get *elected* to make things right, so he conceded the larger question of full civil rights in order that he might be elected to a position where he could address the greater evil of slavery. Prokopowicz does a fantastic job of analyzing the full context of his speeches to make this point.
We are left wanting to read more in some cases, but that's the entire point of this book, which is intended as a sort of beginner intro to Lincoln history. Indeed, near the end, the author recommends several Lincoln bios for further reading.
Highly recommended as an intro text for anyone with an interest in Lincoln.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful