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Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in…

Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory (The…

by Harold Holzer

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Since I devour anything that has to do with Abraham Lincoln, I figured I would give this fairly new book a try. Harold Holzer's book examines the history of, context, and historical interpretation(s) of one of President Lincoln's most famous acts: the Emancipation Proclamation.

I have to say...reading this book was very difficult. The portion of the book that dealt with the history of the drafting and unveiling of the Proclamation was just a condensed version that has already been covered in more detail (and in a much more interesting fashion) in both David Herbert Donald's "Lincoln" and Doris Keanrs Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." There was nothing new that was added to the historical record in this section.

However, I have to admit that I was quite pleased when reading the section that dealt with the public's perception of Lincoln and the Proclamation (and also how it has changed over time). This was the strongest part of Holzer's book because it utilized paintings, etches, and sculptures as primary source material. It was the first time I have ever run into anything that discusses how the artwork of the various time periods helped influence people's perceptions of Lincoln and the Proclamation. I urge people to pay particular attention to this section because it does add something new to the the discussion of "Lincoln History."

Overall, this is not the worst book I have read on Lincoln, but it is not the best either. If people want to save time, I suggest reading the second half of the book. It is much more interesting, and fits more with the overall strengths of Harold Holzer's interests. ( )
  rsplenda477 | Nov 10, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674064402, Hardcover)

The Emancipation Proclamation is responsible both for Lincoln’s being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient. Holzer examines the impact of Lincoln’s announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:38 -0400)

Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation, a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation.

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