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Mr. Lincoln's Wars: A Novel in Thirteen Stories (2003)
by Adam Braver
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006008118X, Hardcover)Adam Braver's debut novel, Mr. Lincoln's Wars, is a faithful execution of a bright idea. Thirteen stories with various narrators give us perspectives on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. We learn Mary Todd Lincoln's exhaustion and grief: "You're a pox, Abraham Lincoln, you bring tragedy to everything you touch. Kill all of the boys in this country, as well as your own." We hear from Zack Hargrove, the meanest, toughest Union soldier there was. We read an imaginary letter from a war widow to Mr. Lincoln, gloating over the death of her abusive husband. To all of these stories, Braver brings a boldly anachronistic writing style. His people speak contemporary language, and what's more, they feel contemporary (or at least post-Freudian) feelings. As Braver has it, the death of Lincoln's son defined and drove the President as much as the fight for abolition. The wildly violent Zack Hargrove had a dad who beat him, and John Wilkes Booth had father issues, too. Braver is determined to illuminate Lincoln's story with a new, more psychologically astute light. The result is carefully done and occasionally compelling, but in his efforts to expand our idea of Lincoln, Braver ends up with a strangely protracted, short-sighted view. --Claire Dederer
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:56 -0400)
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