Keep up with the Latest Lincoln News
Three times each year, Lincoln authority–and ALBF board member–Frank J. Williams publishes a review of recent events in the world of Lincoln and Lincolniana in the quarterly journal The Lincoln Herald. These reports will appear regularly in this website, offering an ongoing look at the latest scholarship and activities in this ever-robust community of historians, readers, enthusiasts and their organizations across the country and throughout the world.
If you have articles or other information to send the author, write to: Hon. Frank J. Williams, Rhode Island Supreme Court, 250 Benefit Street, Providence, RI 02903.
New Books on Lincoln
Lincoln and Shakespeare, Michael Anderegg, University Press of Kansas, 2015. Abraham Lincoln’s knowledge of and love for the plays of William Shakespeare are well known. The plays influenced both his love for the power and majesty of language and perhaps even his understanding of the use of power and authority. (Michael Anderegg is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of North Dakota. He is the author of Orson Welles, Shakespeare, and Popular Culture and Cinematic Shakespeare.)
A Self-made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1849, Sidney Blumenthal, Simon & Schuster, 2016. This book is the first in a planned multi-volume series that will follow the well-known story of Lincoln’s rise to greatness, from the young man struggling to read borrowed books to the White House. The book will examine Lincoln’s eclectic reading habits and the origins of his anti-slavery position. It will also focus on his successful career as an attorney and how this practice contributed to the development of this understanding of the Constitution.
Lincoln’s Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America’s Greatest President, Kathryn Canavan, University Press of Kentucky, 2015. The assassination of our 16th President continues to both fascinate and horrify Americans. The author tells the familiar story with new information gained from thorough research, including a fascinating Epilogue which follows both familiar (e.g. Mary Todd Lincoln) and relatively unknown (e.g. the Petersen family in whose house Lincoln died) characters as their stories unfolded after the assassination. (Kathryn Canavan is an independent researcher who has written for USA Today and The Philadelphia Inquirer.)
Lincoln’s Ethics, Thomas L. Carson, Cambridge University Press, 2015. The author tackles such issues as: the manner in which Lincoln’s views about slavery changed through the years; the concept of the Civil War as a Just War; the charge that he was a racist; a commentary about his religious life (or lack therof); and what his family life tells us about his moral character. (Thomas Carson is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago. He is the author of The Status of Morality, Value and the Good Life, and Moral Relativism.)
Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln, John C. Fazio, McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015. The author seeks to convince his readers that those involved in Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln go well beyond those who were captured and punished. He seeks to show that high-ranking Confederate officials and their Secret Service Bureau were involved, as a last desperate plot to save the Confederacy. (John Fazio, a retired attorney, is a member of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, the Lincoln Forum, Western Reserve Historical Society, and the Surratt Society.)
The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War and His Decision the Changed American History, Jonathan Horn, Scribner, 2015. One of the great “what ifs” of U. S. History surrounds Lee’s decision to decline to participate in the Union cause and his subsequent decision to fight for the Confederacy. This man, who was so closely viewed as an inheritor of the traditions of George Washington, chose to fight against the very Union which many believe would not have been successful without Washington’s leading role. It is almost impossible to imagine Lee’s personal journey, both in making this critical decision and the long years of war which resulted.
Lincoln’s Political Thought, George Kateb, Harvard University Press, 2015. The author uses Lincoln’s speeches and letters to show his commitment to such topics as: the concept of “Political Religion;” Race and Equality; the Constitution; “Military Necessity” in the Civil War; and his use of statements which imply some sort of Divine or Providential intervention. (George Kateb is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He is the author of Human Dignity and Patriotism and Other Mistakes)
Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War, Chandra Manning, Alfred A. Knopf, August 2016. The author examines a subject which frequently claims only a cursory glance in Civil War volumes: the contraband camps which were often an initial destination for escaping slaves. The reader might almost be reminded of stories of current refugee camps which are frequently in the news. Camps, then and now, varied widely in services and facilities. The book stresses the level at which escaping slaved played a large role in determining their own future.
Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief, James M. McPherson, Penguin, 2014. Pulitzer Prize winner McPherson undertakes the task of providing a balanced view of the Confederate leader, who is frequently branded as inept, at best, and a traitor, at worst. The close relationship between Davis and Robert E. Lee is examined at length. The reader is urged to consider the fact that Davis was a leader who clearly articulated his “cause,” even though, then and now, there are constant reminders that he led the losing side.
The National Joker: Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Satire, Todd Nathan Thompson, Southern Illinois University Press, 2015. Stories of the humor of Abraham Lincoln are a staple in any study of our 16th President. The author uses an impressive array of cartoons, both flattering and unflattering, of the era in order to illustrate the manner in which Lincoln’s contemporaries viewed him. He also delves into Lincoln’s successful use of satire to further his political career. (Todd Nathan Thompson is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University Pennsylvania. He had written for Nineteenth Century Prose, Early American Literature, and The Journal of American Culture.)