43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Lincoln, and so much more...,
This review is from: Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America (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. He talks with the men who, with thinly veiled, inferred racist beliefs, wish to paint Lincoln as a warmongering industrialist, whose only goal was to ride roughshod over the defenseless, agrarian South. Attending both a pro and anti-Lincoln conference, Ferguson decries both as unreal, and charts the goal for the rest of his book: to unearth, uncover the real Lincoln.
Ferguson's writing style is both information and brisk. He is honest in his love for Lincoln, and how he lost it, and began to recover it through this book. Sometimes, in reading books like this, the story becomes more about the author and less about the subject matter. No worries. Ferguson steps out of the way at times and let's the story shine through.
And what a story he tells. This is a wonderful book for any weekend historian, Lincoln enthusiast, or someone itching to get into our country's history a little bit more. If you liked Assassination Vacation or Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, you'll adore this book. Does Ferguson achieve his goal: yes, in his own way. The Lincoln he unearths is real, bawdy, human, and alive. He also drives home a new point: the Lincoln each of us loves is the Lincoln we all see in ourselves.