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Lincoln: A President for the Ages (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Participant Media, Karl Weber (Editor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6135194,696 (3.71)1
Member:Angelic55blonde
Title:Lincoln: A President for the Ages
Authors:Participant Media
Other authors:Karl Weber (Editor)
Info:PublicAffairs (2012), Edition: First Trade Paper Edition, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:History, Presidents

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Lincoln : a president for the ages by Karl Weber (Editor) (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Woman’s Suffrage, Atomic bombs, The Roosevelts, the War on Terror, all topics not usually associated with the 16th president. In the title Lincoln: A President of the ages editor Karl Weber has cobbled together a grand list of contributors including: Dan Farber, Andrew Ferguson, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Jean Baker, Richard Cawardine, Allen Guelzo, Harold Holzer, and Douglas L. Wilson to name a few.
To expose my bias, I am a lover of all things Lincoln. I favor Lincoln yes, but I am also a sharp critic of authors and works when I see flaws in research or writing. When I first saw this book I became exited. Here was something new in the Lincoln field. Here we have serious scholarship about Lincoln. But we also have hypothetical situations that could not possibly ever be answered.
I went in with reservations about what to expect. What I found delighted me and relieved me in a sense that these guys really did know what they were writing about. Even theoretical examples show the abilities of these writers and researchers. Since none of these essays are longer than 24 pages they can be read quickly and can be read in any order without worry of missing something from a skipped chapter.
A good companion to the movie and a good addition to any Lincoln Library. Though I would not highly recommend this, I would say that if you are looking for something a bit different from the usual Lincoln-fare, Woman’s Suffrage, Atomic bombs, The Roosevelts, the War on Terror would fit the bill and then some. ( )
  Schneider | May 12, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As a movie companion book, Lincoln: A President for the Ages is excellent. As a factual history, well, that's debatable. Both scholars and a few of those in the movie provide insight into Lincoln's life and the lives of those close to him. Speculative history and "what if" scenarios provide the reader with alternative views of the former president and his legacy. The writing itself is fast-paced, entertaining, and illustrates the different views of the authors. The essays can be read as stand-alone entities if the reader prefers.

Speculative history is always a tricky subject. No one can tell for certain how Lincoln would have performed in the 20th century or even in the years following his unfortunate assassination. I would not recommend the book to an undergraduate history class; however, I think it could be used with fascinating results as an example of historical bias among authors (not a negative as it is present in all works). I personally found it an interesting study in our need to make history contemporary... as well as a lighthearted, interesting read! ( )
  ShieldmaidenOfRohan | Jan 28, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
First reaction to Lincoln was one of skepticism. The movie industry has tainted so many facts. What is fact and what is movie enhancement hype? Reading the reflections and interpretations can only be as clear and unbiased as the person making them. Do we accept this as fact or a stimulus to consider other conclusions. In this respect....the book has achieved its goal.
  gslim96 | Jan 5, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"What Would Lincoln Do?"

This is a good way to describe what this book is largely about. A variety of scholars take a chapter each and consider what Lincoln might have done had he lived in a different time. Would he have dropped an atomic bomb on Japan? Would he have supported women's suffrage or gay rights?

Speculation? Sure. And yet it is not the answer to these possibilities that make this book so fascinating. In trying to address the question, each author has to take a close and intimate look at who Abraham Lincoln was in the context of his own time. It is not "what would Lincoln do?" but "what DID Lincoln do and why did he do it?" Therein lies the appeal of this book, at least to this reader! I am a devoted fan of Lincoln and all I can truly say about this book is that it was extremely satisfying and that I highly recommend it. I can't wait to watch the movie which I just bought! ( )
  enoch_elijah | Oct 7, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In commenting upon Steven Spielberg's great film, Lincoln, many have noted its shrewd juxtaposition of Lincoln's approach to politics compared to the gridlock that is the hallmark of today's federal government. By focusing on the Congressional passage of the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, the movie portrays the 16th president pursuing a just cause -- in this case, the end of slavery -- through the imperfect and morally ambiguous tools of politics. Conventional wisdom compares this to the current pattern of Washington DC, where any attempt to do something significant invariably devolves into petty finger-pointing and to dueling talking points in the press.

A companion book to the film, "Lincoln: A President for the Ages," produced by Participant Media and featuring a picture of actor Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln on the cover, has found an intriguing way to match this aspect of Spielberg's movie. After introductory essays more closely tied to the film, its characters, and its themes, several Lincoln scholars are asked to consider how Lincoln might have faced subsequent challenges in American history.

Frequently, counter-factual history involves flights of fancy that veer towards the ridiculous. Here, though, significant historians who have experience writing about Lincoln and his era offer speculations rooted in the 19th Century context of Lincoln's decisions and actions. Three scholars consider Lincoln and the World War II era: Daniel Farber on executive power, James Takkach on the Hiroshima bomb, and Allen Guelzo on the end of the war. Jean Baker explores Lincoln and women's suffrage, while Frank Williams imagines how Lincoln might approach the war on terror. Two others consider Lincoln as public speaker and writer in today's media climate: Douglas Wilson on how Lincoln might shape public opinion with television and the Internet and Richard Carwardine on the specific issue of religious rhetoric. And the ubiquitous Harold Holzer concludes the book with a look at Lincoln and the culture of celebrity.

By and large, each of these essays is strong and most take a similar approach. After introducing their chosen anachronistic issue, the historians plumb the Lincoln record, describing how Lincoln approached similar issues in his own time, such as the development of military technology or Lincoln's calculated shaping of his public image. This analysis is followed by consideration of how the similarities between Lincoln's period and the more recent and then delicate inferences of how Lincoln might have reacted to those later issues. Surprisingly, the most gingerly argument is made by Baker, who concludes that Lincoln could barely imagine women having the right to vote -- an issue one might reasonably assume Lincoln must actually have considered at some point in his life, as opposed to dropping an atomic bomb or dealing with television.

The opening chapters cover more expected ground in a movie companion-book. The book's editor, Karl Weber, contributes an essay, "The Faces of Lincoln," which chronicles the physical portrayal of Lincoln in photographs during his lifetime and in other art forms, including movies, in the generations thereafter. The actress Gloria Reuben, who portrays Mary Lincoln's confidant Elizabeth Keckley in Spielberg's movie, writes of her research and the process, and the deep emotion, of bringing the former slave turned businesswoman to the screen. And, as the abolition of slavery is the central drama of the movie, it is appropriate that Henry Louis Gates contributes an essay evaluating Lincoln and his approach to slavery and race relations; Gates has spent recent years considering this issue and his scholarship, along with his judicious approach, shine in the book's most sophisticated contribution.

Overall, the essays are interesting and informative. The one exception is an interview with Andrew Ferguson, author of the highly enjoyable "Land of Lincoln," which considers the pervasive Lincoln in modern American culture. Partially, this is due to the form: next to the other carefully crafted essays, the question and response format seems haphazard; mostly, though, it is due to Ferguson not offering much of interest in his answers. Still, this is hardly reason to ignore the otherwise strong collection assembled here.

This review is also published at http://lincolniana.blogspot.com/2013/09/book-review-lincoln-president-for-ages.h... ( )
  ALincolnNut | Sep 4, 2013 |
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Book description
Lincoln, in theaters November 9, portrays America’s 16th president when he faced two colossal challenges: winning the Civil War, and passing the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery and making permanent the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation. The politics of wartime, which required unity at all costs, conflicted with divisiveness of slavery. The president had to be at once true to his ideals and employ old-fashioned political cunning to outwit his rivals. This companion book, featuring a foreword by screenwriter Tony Kushner, invites historians and Lincoln experts to imagine Lincoln in eras other than his own, facing challenges of those times. How would Lincoln have handled the Second World War, or the politics of Civil Rights era, or the modern Republican Party? Using the character of Lincoln presented in the film - a man of high principle and low cunning - the book shows how Lincoln, a president for the ages, might indeed have taken America forward during other historic moments of drama and opportunity. "-- Provided by publisher.

This companion book to the major motion picture from Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, has leading historians answering the question: What Would Lincoln Do? Lincoln portrays America’s 16th president when he faced two colossal challenges: winning the Civil War, and passing the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery and making permanent the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation. The politics of wartime, which required unity at all costs, conflicted with divisiveness of slavery. The president had to be at once true to his ideals and employ old-fashioned political cunning to outwit his rivals-- Provided by publisher, [retrieved from www.loc.gov (Library of Congress) 5/23/2013]

CONTENTS:

About this book by Karl Weber p. vii

1. The Faces of Lincoln by Karl Weber p. 1

Lincoln's words p.17

2. Elizabeth Keckley: Bringing an Extraordinary Woman to the Screen by Gloria Reuben p.25

Lincoln's words p.37

3. "A Sacred Effort": Lincoln's Unfinished Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Henry Louis Gates Jr. p.39

Lincoln's words p.61

4. "By No Means Excluding Females": Abraham Lincoln and Women's Suffrage by Jean Baker p.65

Lincoln's words p.80

5. Lincoln, FDR, and the Growth of Federal Power by Daniel Farber p.83

Lincoln's words p.97

6. "That This Mighty Scourge of War May Speedily Pass Away": Lincoln and the Hiroshima Decision by James Tackach p.101

Lincoln's words p.120

7. At the End of Two Wars: 1865 and 1945, Lincoln and Roosevelt by Allen C. Guelzo p.123

Lincoln's words p.140

8. Abraham Lincoln: the President as Outlaw by James Malanowski p.147

Lincoln's words p.162

9. President Abraham Lincoln Confronts the War on Terror by The Honorable Frank J. Williams p.165

Lincoln's words p.177

10. "Public Opinion is Everything": Lincoln the Communicator by Douglas L. Wilson p.183

Lincoln's words p.196

11. "The Almighty Has His Own Purposes": Abraham Lincoln and the Christian Right by Richard Carwardine p.199

Lincoln's words p.215

12. The Real Lincoln is an Icon: an Interview with Andrew Ferguson p. 217

Lincoln's words p.233

13. Lincoln -- the Unlikely Celebrity by Harold Holzer p.237

Acknowledgements p.253

Notes p.255

Index p.265
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"This companion book to the major motion picture from Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, has leading historians answering the question: What Would Lincoln Do? Lincoln portrays America's 16th president when he faced two colossal challenges: winning the Civil War, and passing the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery and making permanent the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation. The politics of wartime, which required unity at all costs, conflicted with divisiveness of slavery. The president had to be at once true to his ideals and employ old-fashioned political cunning to outwit his rivals"--… (more)

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