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4.4 out of 5 stars
Abraham Lincoln: Great Speeches (Dover Thrift Editions)
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book presents the full-length versions of some of Lincoln's best oratory feats. Great Speeches contains fifteen of Lincoln's best along with his famous letter to Mrs. Bixby, who lost all five of her sons during the war. Here is an excerpt as only Lincoln could create:
"I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom."
What you get from the book is a fabulous primary source from which to quote our sixteenth president. What you do not get is a lot of analysis on his underlying motivations. Although a short essay at the beginning of each discourse helps place Lincoln's words in historical context, you will not find a wealth of scholarly insight into why Lincoln gave each particular speech and what the implications were to the nation. Nevertheless, Great Speeches helps the reader understand this incredible man in a manner unbiased by the opinions of others.
Highly recommended for anyone wishing to learn more about President Lincoln and some of the issues he faced during a time of incredible national upheaval.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful collection of Lincolns most famous speeches. His "farwell to Springfield" speech, Gettysburg address and annual messages to Congress all collected in one book. Great Speeches would make an excellent reading assignment for U.S. history class.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Whatever else one may feel about President Lincoln (he has been both glorified as a martyr and demonized as an opponent of individual civil liberties), one cannot come away from this great little anthology of his speeches without seeing a principle-driven politician at his best. And the principle that we see driving Lincoln from his very earliest days through his final speeches (although by that time, preserving the Union had become an equally important theme) is that of the abolition of slavery.

Lincoln is clearly a man who believed in right and wrong. He sees slavery as the great evil of his day. From the beginning of his political involvement to the day he died, his speeches show him as a man determined to do away with this evil.

If only we had one man in our political arena as interested in principles today. We have'nt had one in our Federal Government since Paul Wellstone died. Too many are money and/or power driven rather than having any interest in principle.

I do not say this to despair.

I picked up my copy of this book this spring at the gift shop of the National Historic site for Lincoln's birthplace. Both the site (which is beautiful and well worth seeing if you're ever in Kentucky) and the book stand as testimonies to what one determined man of principles can do.

Read these speeches if you get a chance.

I recommend them highly.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Today Abraham Lincoln's political views are often misrepresented in many ways. Some claim he was a great forward-thinking emancipator (he originally planned to let the southern states have until 1900 to abolish slavery on an individual-state basis), while others claim he was never really interested in ending slavery at all (in fact, as early as 1838 Lincoln made it clear that he thought the only practical way of ending slavery was to contain it where it already existed, so that it would then eventually die out). These are only examples. These speeches, however, are Lincoln's definitive statement, from his own mouth, of what he did and did not stand for. They are a bit tedious to read (and would obviously work better as speeches), but anyone who is interested in Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War should read this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I find it amazing to read these speeches, considering that I've heard some of them a few times (performed by actors). They come across just as powerully written as they do orally.
What's even more amazing is that Lincoln worked hard to educate himself, and his writing reflects someone who is in love with the usage and power of words, language, and meaning.
His style is somewhat outdated (punctuation usage has changed, and the odd capitalization of nouns is a holdover from possibly the Germanic influence on English) but never stilted or boring.
And, the Gettysburg Address is still eloquent (and powerful) after all of this time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a well thought-out collection of a dozen Lincoln speeches. I liked this book because of the variety. The speeches range from short (like the Gettysburg address) to very long inaugural addresses and speeches to Congress (20+ pages). Most speeches are from Lincoln's presidency, but the book also includes speeches from earlier in his political career. The speeches are in chronological order. In my opinion, Lincoln's early speeches were long winded and not particularly good, but I'm glad they were included, because it is fascinating to see how his style evolved, and how he really didn't become a great speaker (in my opinion) until after he became President.
My only complaint has nothing to do with the book itself. It's that Amazon is now charging a $1.99 "sourcing fee", thereby raising the book's price from $1.50 to $3.49. Amazon, I wish you would do away with these fees!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
There is something so moving , and even humbling about reading the words of Lincoln.

He is a politician of his time, and yet is above his time. He is a leader of the nation in the war to preserve the Union, yet he is compassionate and understanding of the defeated foe. He is a human being of great sympathy. And his words at Gettysburg are the most moving and profound statement made by an American about the essential meaning of the United States itself.

His greatness humbles and uplifts us.

This volume contains the essential words of the one who most Americans believe the greatest American of them all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
For the person, from elementary school through college, studying Lincoln or the American Civil War, this book is a comprehensive guide to Lincoln's public face. From his early "stump" speeches through the Gettysburg Address, it's here, and very inexpensive.

Like the rest of the Dover Thrift Series, the book is not printed on the best paper nor with the best binding, but the font is quite readable and the material riveting, and the book is of high enough quality construction to allow you to annotate without ruining the obverse page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the easiest and briefest way to be introduced to the speeches of Lincoln. Great resource for teachers and students.

I do, however, dare anyone today to try to read these speeches aloud (which was how they were delivered). Our poor understanding of the power of words and layered meanings makes reading Lincoln's speeches a challenge for anyone.
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on October 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've recently read and enjoyed a couple of biographies of Abraham Lincoln. These biographies frequently quoted various speeches, proclamations, and letters by Lincoln, and I decided I wanted to read some of the major ones in their entirety. Thus, I turned to the very reasonably priced Dover Thrift Editions collection of 16 of Lincoln's best known works.

There are many free online sources for Lincoln's works, so why purchase this one? Well, Dover's production values are solid and the price is practically free (currently $2 on Amazon), so you get a convenient and portable edition of the speeches. More than that, the historical notes by John Grafton before each speech do a good job of giving the reader some of the historical context in which the speech was delivered. That was useful, even having just read biographies of Lincoln and having the history pretty fresh in my mind.

As for the speeches and other works themselves, all the major ones are here. House Divided, both inaugurals, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, Cooper Union, Letter to Mrs. Bixby. My favorite of the collection would have to be Lincoln's 1838 Lyceum Address, "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions." Delivered early in Lincoln's public career, it eloquently frames many of the issues that the country would face in the Civil War. My second favorite would be the Cooper Union speech, delivered in 1860 and a major step in his path to the presidency, in which Lincoln's powers of logic and persuasive argumentation are showcased brilliantly (I would not want to have to face someone who could put this speech together in court). Some of the longer speeches contain some esoteric bits, but even those can be interesting (for example, the Federal government spent $570,841,700.25 in FY 1862, mostly by the War Department).

This collection is a very good introduction to the original words of Abraham Lincoln, and is well worth reading for anyone with an interest in American history. I've been inspired by this and my other recent Lincoln reading to purchase the Library of America two volume Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, and I'm looking forward to exploring those. Reading the original documents brings a valuable perspective to the study of history.
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