In Lincoln's Hand: His Original Manuscripts
by: Harold Holzer and Joshua Wolf Shenk, Editors
Published by: Bantam Books (January 27 release)
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Reviewed by Andrea Sisco
Occasionally a book will cross my desk that takes my breath away. In Lincoln’s Hand is one of those books. It’s a rare, “close up and personal” look at Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten speeches, letters and other childhood notebooks. There are about forty examples of Lincoln’s writings displayed, and each is accompanied by a commentary from people in literature, film and politics.
This is a partial list of contributors: Ken Burns, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Liam Neeson, Sandra Day O’Connor, Steven Spielberg, Sam Waterston, Mario M. Cuomo, Newt Gingrich, Kathryn Harrison, William Safire, and John Updike. It’s quite a list!
There are numerous examples of Lincoln’s writings that will garner a reader’s attention. I kept returning to the poignant letter to Mary Todd Lincoln dated April 16, 1848. One feels privy to the marital relationship and it gives the reader a deeper look into the public man’s life. Lincoln’s letter about Stephen Douglas attests to the humanness of a man who sometimes feels inferior. There are many more stunning and startling examples of a great man’s writings, but my heart beat fast to see the preliminary emancipation proclamation. It was a view of history that set our nation on a new course.
The photographic copies are such that one can read the actual handwriting, but it is wonderful that they are also replicated in type for even easier reading. The photos of pertinent places and people also add to the richness of In Lincoln’s Hand.
The Library of Congress will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and In Lincoln’s Hand will coincide with the opening of the exhibit.
The two editors of In Lincoln’s Hand add to the prestige of this celebration edition. Harold Holzer is a leading authority on Abraham Lincoln. Joshua Wolf Shenk is the author of Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a Presided and Fueled His Greatness.
Armchair Interviews says: A must read, must have for the reader’s personal library and every school and library in America should have available In Lincoln’s Hand.
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