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Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America Paperback – April 11, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The question that animates this original, insightful, disarmingly funny book is: how do Americans commemorate Lincoln, and what do our memories of him reveal about our visions of the good life? To discover the answer, Ferguson, an editor at the Weekly Standard and a Lincoln buff, made a long field trip, poking into many of the places where Americans have chosen to remember—or to forget—Honest Abe. He eavesdrops on the Lincoln Reconsidered conference, where a group of "Abephobes" aim to retrieve Lincoln's memory from the distortions of "liberal historians." He considers the "Disney aesthetic" of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., and attends a convention of Lincoln "presenters" (otherwise known as impersonators). Ferguson is occasionally and unnecessarily snide, and a deeper examination of the changing place of Lincoln in mainstream historical scholarship would have added a great deal to the book. Still, Ferguson's conclusions are stirring. He finds Lincoln's meaning best articulated by Robert Moton, an educator whose parents were slaves. With great simplicity, Moton explained Lincoln's greatness: " a time of doubt and distrust... he spoke the word that gave freedom to a race and vindicated the honor of a Nation conceived in liberty...." (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Abraham Lincoln has been the subject, by one count, of nearly 14,000 books. Chances are that none is funnier than Andrew Ferguson's Land of Lincoln. Ferguson is at his best when writing the sort of good-natured, insightful observation that drives Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic, or any of Bill Bryson's books. At times, the humor devolves into cynicism and the argument loses focus; those passages work less well. In his attempt at separating the truth of Lincoln's legacy from the fiction (or the history from the kitsch), though, Ferguson discovers a great deal about how-and how well-we honor our heroes.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (April 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080214361X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802143617
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Ferguson, a senior editor at the Weekly Standard, is the author of Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, a collection of essays, and Land of Lincoln, named by the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune as a Favorite Book of the Year. Formerly a senior writer for the Washingtonian magazine, he has been a contributing editor to Time magazine, as well as a columnist for Fortune, TV Guide, Forbes FYI, National Review, Bloomberg News, and Commentary. He has also written for the New Yorker, New York magazine, the New Republic, the American Spectator, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other publications. In 1992, he was a White House speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. He lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ray McConnell on May 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The above title could have come from a the mind of a "meatball" at one of those corporate workshops Andrew Ferguson so abhors! I recently read his first book, "Fools Names, Fools Faces," and, whereas the essays in that book could be very cutting, "Land of Lincoln," is just as funny, but much more reflective. Ferguson runs into a wide array of characters on his cross-country Lincoln quest, but he never takes a cheap shot at them for comedic effect. His humor is more nuanced, and, therefore, much more genuine. I especially enjoyed the parts where he described his interaction with his teen-aged children as he attempted to persuade them to spend part of their summer vacation traversing the "Lincoln Heritage Trail." This part, of course, was hilarious, but it pointed to a more serious concern shared by all parents who love history: will our children marinating in this media-saturated entertainment culture ever appreciate history like we do? I have been looking forward to purchasing this book for two years, ever since I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ferguson at a gathering in Washington DC. He was very cordial to me, and, when he found out I lived in Saginaw, Michigan, he retrieved an article from his office for me about Dr. Mudd of the Lincoln Assassination conspiracy. You see, Dr. Mudd's grandson lived in Saginaw and he spent most of his long life trying to gain a pardon for Dr. Mudd. I must also mention that the quality of Mr. Ferguson's writing is always excellent. In summary, I would recommend this fine book to all who love history from a unique perspective, presented in a well-written, most entertaining fashion!
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on May 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm probably one of the biggest Abe Lincoln fans this side of the Mississippi, the west side, that is. Ever since I got bitten by the Abe bug in fifth grade (that horrendous Gettysburg paper diorama still comes to mind), the sixteenth president has haunted me and stayed with me through thick and thin. My interest, more than a mere dabbling, is proven by a range of Lincoln books that grace the downstairs bookshelf, one of the newest being Goodwin's marvelous yarn Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Suffice it to say, that most of my Lincoln books offer a favorable look at the grisly old man, savior of our nation, and that's what I prefer. When another book pops up on the surface, needless-to-say, I consider buying it to add to the library. So it was with great flourish, and immediacy, that I just found Andrew Ferguson's new Lincoln book Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America and within minutes, was standing in line purchasing it. Two hours later, and I've read it. And what a joy this book is!

Andrew Ferguson's take on Abe is a quest for the truth of Lincoln, not a mythologized superhero, sent by the Heavens to wash the scourge of slavery from the continent, but a real life man, flaws and all. Ferguson goes to the "Lincoln" places in America, to investigate how he has or is being portrayed by the various locations: both positive and negative.

Ferguson starts off his book dealing with a controversy I had barely heard about, but seem to remember: the placement of a Lincoln statue in Richmond, VA. Ferguson doesn't shy away from the controversy, but goes to live in it and what's more, understand it.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By SCDay on May 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Ferguson is a great writer with a subtle sense of humor. In Land of Lincoln, Ferguson, a self-described "buff" of Abraham Lincoln, checks in on how Lincoln is faring in modern America with asides on how he has fared in the past. The book is alternatively funny and sad: "Lincoln" is certainly firmly rooted in American history and culture, but who exactly is this "Lincoln" is indeterminate -- often a product of the needs of people rather than a free standing figure.

The first part of the book is Ferguson traveling to various Lincoln sites solo -- e.g., Richmond, Chicago, and Springfield Illinois. The second part is a forced family journey to sites involving Lincoln in Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana as Ferguson tries to recreate the family journey he took as a child.

The book is very well done with funny moments (the anti-Lincoln convention and the Lincoln reenactors convention are great examples) and sad and melancholy discussions (the new disneyfied Lincoln experience in Springfield and the transformation of Lincoln in the Chicago Historical Society). Through it all Ferguson is a a shrewd and understated observed who allows his interviewees to state their cases with little or no comment by Ferguson.

Ferguson is clearly a well-educated on the topic of Lincoln and Lincoln Historiography and the book cleary is a labor of love.

I'd recommend the book for "serious" and casual Lincoln buffs as well as non-buffs looking for an entertaining, funny, and insightful read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on May 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Using Mr. Lincoln as a common thread, a fun journey of discovery of modern day America through the lens of a traditional father -- albeit a wittily sardonic one. Mr. Ferguson is an accomplished writer with a firm grasp of the facts of Mr. Lincoln's life and a clear eye to the various hucksters--and the occasional simply good-hearted Lincoln buffs--that continue, in one way or another, to thrive off our country's enigmatic 16th president.

While the author's telling thoughts on such diverse topics as conventions of impersonators; business leadership workshops; family vacations; urban planning; the National Park Service; and museum displays are not the fodder for traditional presidential histories, this is a book well worth reading. At its core, it is a heartfelt appreciation for a great man.
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