Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of National Memory 1st Edition

ISBN-13: 978-0226741970
ISBN-10: 0226741974
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There have been many studies of Lincoln's life and how it has come to be perceived in the minds of Americans, the best being Merrill Peterson's Abraham Lincoln in American Memory (1994). Schwartz's scholarly account manages only to be a workman-like job of surveying the power of Lincoln's image since 1865. Unlike Peterson's user-friendly book, Schwartz's volume appears to have been written with an academic readership in mind: a scholarly dryness permeates the prose. Nevertheless, Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Georgia, hits all the important points on his way to a larger argument about memory and history. He contends that the common view of Lincoln changed over time alongside changes in national interests and priorities. In the Progressive era, for example, Lincoln was lauded as a common man who rose to the White House despite all obstacles; during the mid-20th-century civil rights struggle, on the other hand, he was known as the Great Emancipator. Lincoln buffs might protest that Schwartz then uses up too much space talking about the sociology of collective memory as represented in the work of scholars like Charles Horton Cooley and Emile DurkheimAbut they'd be missing the point. Ultimately, this is not a book about Lincoln as a man or a symbol. It's a study that uses the American commemoration of Lincoln as a vehicle for studying the whims and whiles of national memory. As such, it is a success. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this work, Schwartz (sociology, Univ. of Georgia; George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol) examines the endless American fascination with Lincoln. This first installment of a projected two-part study chronicles the Great Emancipator's ever-changing image, from his 1865 assassination to the May 30, 1922, dedication day of his national monument in Washington, DC. The author charts the commemoration of Lincoln's life through analysis of eulogies and other hagiographies, monuments, shrines, statues, state portraits, historical paintings, prints, and centennial, sesquicentennial, and annual birthday observances. During the industrial and social revolutions of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, the rich complexities of Lincoln's life served as a unifying beacon to immigrants, Socialists, economic and social conservatives, African Americans, and even white Southerners. Following World War I, Lincoln assumed the mantle of "epic imagery." Schwartz puts it best in this final sentence of this profound study: "Lincoln...became America's universal man standing beside the people and above the people." Although this highly provocative book is a major contribution to American social and intellectual history, its concentrated academic approach may have little appeal to general readers. Recommended for large public libraries and academic libraries.DJohn Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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