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Abraham Lincoln: Selected Speeches and Writings (Library of America) Paperback – July 30, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Ranging from finely honed legal argument to dry and sometimes savage humor to private correspondence and political rhetoric of unsurpassed grandeur, the writings collected in this volume are at once the literary testament of the greatest writer ever to occupy the White House and a documentary history of America in Abraham Lincoln's time. They record Lincoln's campaigns for public office; the evolution of his stand against slavery; his pyrotechnic debates with Stephen Douglas; his conduct of the Civil War; and the great public utterances of his presidency, including the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.

For the first time, the authoritative editions of works by major American novelists, poets, scholars, and essayists collected in the hardcover volumes of The Library of America are being published singly in a series of handsome paperback books. A distinguished writer has contributed an introduction for each volume, which also includes a chronology of the author's life and career, an essay on the text, and notes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Abraham Lincoln

Gore Vidal was born Eugene Luther Vidal in 1925, later adopting the surname of his grandfather, Senator Thomas Gore, as his first name. He is the author of numerous novels—the first, Williwaw, written when he was twenty-one—as well as scripts for film, television and the stage, including the extremely successful The Best Man and Visit to a Small Planet. He is perhaps best known for his historical novels, including Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), and Lincoln (1984). He won the National Book Award in 1993 for his book of essays, United States (1952-1992). 


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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America
  • Paperback: 550 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (July 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598530534
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598530537
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book chronicles not only texts of key speeches showing the evolution of Lincoln's view of slavery, but also insightful letters revealing some private thoughts of this shrewd railroad lawyer whose ambition propelled him to heights that made him the best President our Republic has ever seen. The 1838 Lyceum speech of Lincoln's youth gives stunning insight into that ambition. This book supports the notion that Lincoln was also the greatest writer to ever occupy the White House, revealing an impressive variety of literary styles, from meticulous legal argumentation to a dry, concise wit. In light of Lincoln's literary legacy, it is no wonder that each President since Woodrow Wilson has deemed the aid of professional speechwriters vital to their strategies. And even with the professional help the modern chief executives have gotten, Lincoln's rhetoric remains the most sublime of all our Presidents.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Moses Operandi on April 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Abraham Lincoln is a giant in American history, but it wasn't until I read his speeches and writings that his wisdom and wit became apparent. This is a man born in the depths of poverty, and who climbed to the very top. The Gettysburg Address, largely ignored when it was first given, has risen to become one of the most profound, definite, and understood explanations of the American dream..."we will witness a new birth of freedom...that government ofthe people, by the people, and for the people will not perish from the earth..." God Bless Lincoln, and God Bless America.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Rozsa on December 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
The musty, stoic Lincoln of folklore is brought to life in the pages of this book, and in the best way possible... through his own words. Abraham Lincoln, we discover through his letters and speeches, was first and foremost an intellectual: one can feel his pain as he writes poetry about homesickness and the loss of a close friend to mental illness; one can hear his enthusiasm as he discusses the history of communication and human progress, to such a degree that he goes off on fascinating tangents; one can detect barely-suppressed anger at pro-slavery activists who lynched an abolitionist in 1838, or at the hypocrisy of popular sovereignty when espoused by Stephen Douglas twenty years later. I refer to him here as an intellectual because the defining characteristic that underlies the majority of these letters is the way that Lincoln uses his mind to both understand and make his way through the world he occupied. One can see him exploring new ideas, contemplating contemporary events, attempting to formulate political strategies, and so on; his cerebral nature shines through every page. I can think of no better way to get to know one of our nation's three greatest presidents (along with George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt) than through the pages of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Juridicus on February 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
After perusing the voluminous annals of Lincoln's writings, scholars and laymen alike are astounded by his ability to set forth his views with clarity and logic in an age noted for for oblique, flourished writing styles reminescent of 18th century dinner invitations from the Queen. We also marvel at his ability to convey complex thoughts and feelings in the style of an accomplished poet. He was indeed a master of the English language worthy of the high esteem for which he is remembered.

However, to my limited knowledge, no one has yet analyzed his writings from the perspective of his profession. He wrote in the style of the lawyer which he was to get the attention of impatient judges and juries who were likely illiterate. He had to appeal to people with little knowledge (including judges of the time), short attention spans, and do it in the least amount of time possible.

A good piece of legal writng is roughly divided into three parts. The first is a statement of the facts, the second an analysis of those facts in the context of applicable law and the third the conclusion (or, in the case of judges), a definitive holding. Lincoln consciously selected each word for a purpose and arranged his arguments in logically ordered paragraphs that ultimately supported, and persuaded others, to agree with his conclusion.

It does not take much time to observe his style just by flipping through the pages of Lincoln's speeches, letters and other writings set forth in the unadulterated versions set forth in the books published by the Library of America. Every piece of writing, including his short notes, begins with a strong topic sentence that sets forth the subject of the remainder of the paragraph without any wasted words.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KG on February 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have the Dover Thrift Edition of Abraham Lincoln's Great Speeches which whet my appetite and curiosity for more communications of this great leader. My appetite was whet even more by the movie "Lincoln". I believe that if our current politicians had the ability to communicate as well as Lincoln (and the time to write their own speeches and letters) there would be less follow-up explanations and retractions. As an example I would offer the letter Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862. I'm sure there are many, including the recipient, who disagreed with the views offered in this letter; but I don't think anyone could mistake the views of the person writing the letter.
One needs to be aware that these are 'selected' offerings and that some of the speeches are edited for brevity. I have just begun to persue a look into what this man said and its impact on our history and our current situation. I believe that this book will serve me well in that 'look' and would heartily recommend it.
The Modern Library hardbound version in two volumes would be my next choice.
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Abraham Lincoln: Selected Speeches and Writings (Library of America)
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