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The provocative selections in this book address topics as disparate as William H. Herndon and his informants, Lincoln's favorite poem, his mysterious broken engagement, the text of his debates with Stephen A. Douglas, and a previously unknown assault on Peter Cartwright. They also provide a fresh look at some of the affinities between Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson....

Title : Lincoln before Washington: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE ILLINOIS YEARS
Author :
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ISBN : 9780252066276
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Lincoln before Washington: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE ILLINOIS YEARS Reviews

  • David Kent
    2019-05-14 19:53

    Exceptional insights from a noted Abraham Lincoln scholar. This 1997 book is a collection of essays, each of which was previously published in a variety of magazine and journal outlets. At the time of publication the author had recently completed the editing of "Herndon's Informants," an annotated compendium of all the source letters and notes used by Lincoln's former law partner William Herndon to create an in-depth biography. The author went on to write a now-classic book on Lincoln called "Honor's Voice." These three books are intertwined but not repetitive. Douglas L. Wilson is also the author of many more books and articles about Lincoln.In this current book, Wilson tackles several of the most debated topics within the Lincoln scholarly community. With each he applies his vast knowledge of the literature and supports his views with ample primary sources. Wilson is unafraid to take on other great Lincoln scholars, addressing, and often refuting, their findings.For example, the author examines the reliability of William Herndon as a biographer and, more importantly, a collector and reporter of reminiscences by many dozens of people who knew Lincoln in his earlier years. Wilson concludes that while some of Herndon's conclusions and apparent biases may be suspect, so too are the conclusions and biases of some previous Lincoln scholars.Similarly, Wilson attempts to separate myth from fact regarding Lincoln's relationship with Ann Rutledge and the significant melancholy (or even depression) caused by her death. In his examination Wilson concludes that notable Lincoln experts Paul Angle, James Randall, and Ruth Painter Randall and others have unfairly dismissed the relationship, in large part because of their distrust of Herndon (but also because of their own apparent biases against such a relationship). Wilson also takes on the "fatal first of January" controversy, in which Lincoln and Mary Todd's engagement is nullified, perhaps due to the presence of another love. Other essays take on Lincoln's interactions with Peter Cartwright and his interest in poetry, in particular the Knox poem "Mortality."In all of these essays Wilson demonstrates a superior knowledge, ability to research and cite primary materials, and evaluative thinking that goes beyond most writers about Lincoln. Each essay provides insights that largely cannot be found elsewhere. In addition, the author was a Thomas Jefferson scholar prior to switching over to Abraham Lincoln, so he provides two chapters that contrast these two great Presidents. Both are very informative.One final point must be emphasized. This is not a book for people who want to read a biography of Lincoln. It is a scholarly book that compiles previously published scholarly articles and served as a basis for later scholarly treatments of Lincoln's life. Readers must have a general knowledge of the topics and incidents being discussed; otherwise the analysis won't be useful. But for those who have a basic knowledge of Lincoln's life and who want to broaden and deepen their understanding, I consider this book must-reading.

  • Ed
    2019-05-02 17:48

    4½ stars. I love this book. It's so much fun. This book collects some of Wilson's previously published monographs pertaining to very specific topics, questions & debates in Lincolniana. This book is for anyone interested in seeking insight into the origins & motives of Lincoln's thinking. Wilson doesn't present new facts so much as he proffers new and exciting interpretations of the facts. I presume that chapters in this book later served as the raw material & rough drafts for Wilson's equally wonderful mass-market book Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln (published Jan. 27, 1998). Anyone who liked Honor's Voice — a great book — and found themselves hungry for more of the same should read this book, its prequel, Lincoln before Washington.