on March 4, 2008
I love history, yet I seldom carve out the time to indulge. When I was gifted "ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A Man of Faith and Courage" I began to skim it ready to put it aside. But I just couldn't put it down! Sure there are countless books on our most admired President, but NONE like this one! In this book we get verified and authenticated quotes from the man himself revealing the depth of his faith and specifically how that faith grew, and shaped his life and his presidency. Not only is every page an inspiration to remind every American in this century of our amazing, unsurpased blessings we so take for granted; it is also an amazing revelation of how God took a man of many failures and turn him into a world changer. If God can use this man who became the most admired President in our history, he can use YOU to change the world as well, no matter how small you feel!
on July 14, 2008
In the introduction to his latest book, Joe Wheeler relates this advice from his ad man son Greg: "No matter what the product, just tie [Abraham] Lincoln to it and it's guaranteed to sell." This perhaps explains why I've seen ads for everything from car insurance to sleeping pills featuring the celebrated 16th president of the United States. There's even a diner in my old neighborhood that features Lincoln's face prominently on its sign. Nothing says bacon and eggs like a stovepipe hat!
Books are no exception to Greg's rule. Wheeler contends that more books have been written about Lincoln than all the other presidents combined, and he enters the fray with ABRAHAM LINCOLN, A MAN OF FAITH AND COURAGE. "While I admire and revere Washington, it stops there. He is a model for many fine qualities, but with me at least, he remains only a model to be venerated. Not so with the sixteenth president. There is something about Abraham Lincoln that makes me love him. I cannot explain it: I know only that it's there," he writes. Wheeler's love for Lincoln is both a strength and weakness of his book, which often straddles the line between biography and hagiography.
There is no doubt that Lincoln was an extraordinarily individual, and the stories here provide an entertaining survey of the moments --- large and small --- that made the man. The following story illustrates the combination of solid research and faith-filled speculation that characterizes Wheeler's book.
"One day, when he was around nine, he took a bag of corn, mounted the flea-bitten gray mare, and rode leisurely to Gordon's Mill. His turn didn't come until late afternoon. Since each man was expected to provide his own power, Abe hitched the mare to the arm. As the animal moved around, the machinery responded with proportional speed --- or lack of it. Abe, mounted on the arm, found it necessary to frequently use his whip, otherwise, the horse would stop. Each time the whip action took place, Abe would say, `Get up you old hussy.' Finally, resenting Abe's whip, just as the words, `Get up,' were said, the horse elevated a shoeless foot and kicked him in the forehead, sending him sprawling.
"Mr. Gordon, the miller, hurried into the ring, picked up the senseless boy (whom he took for dead), and sent for his father. His father came, loaded the body in the wagon, and took him home. Abe lay unconscious all night, but toward day there were signs of life. The blood began to flow normally, his tongue struggled to loosen itself, his body jerked for an instant and he awoke, blurting out the other three words interrupted at the mill, `you old hussy.'
"Lincoln would talk about this strange phenomenon for the rest of his life, this memorable experience that so easily could have been his last. God must certainly have had a reason for sparing his life."
This story comes from a biography of Lincoln written in 1925, and indeed Wheeler cites his "exhaustive scholarship" of reading 60 books about Lincoln in preparing to write his own. And yet there is clearly a healthy dose of speculation mixed in with the facts, especially when it comes to Lincoln's spiritual development and relationship with God. Wheeler is not shy about reading providence into Lincoln's life at almost every turn. This will leave some readers nodding in agreement, but will leave critical readers on edge.
That said, many of Lincoln's writings offer great spiritual insight that Wheeler is right to highlight. It's clear that while Lincoln was often careful about being inclusive when discussing faith from his public platform, he was involved in a serious and significant spiritual journey with the God of the Bible. And at no time was such a searching and faithful president needed than during the Civil War.
Wheeler uses a brush dipped in sepia tones to paint the picture of Lincoln's early years growing up on the frontiers of Kentucky and Indiana, which is somewhat ironic given that Lincoln himself is noted for having no such sentimentality in his regard for the hardscrabble lifestyle of those years. But the author does an excellent job of giving context to his years by explaining the cultural, religious, political, even ecological milieu in which he lived. Wheeler is able to move helpfully between a wide angle perspective and a closer focus on Lincoln, providing a cohesive and comprehensive narrative for those not already familiar with his life and even adding some interesting details for those who have read a book or two on him. I hear there are a few out there...
--- Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel
on May 19, 2008
I have collected books about Abraham Lincoln for well over forty years. I found Dr. Wheeler's book to be one of the most enjoyable to read of any that I have on my shelves. The stories that the author shares made this very unique President more "human" to me. I happened to be in Washington, D.C., when I finished the book. Although I have visited the Lincoln Memorial many times, it was a very emotional experience this time around because of what I had just read. I have enjoyed reading several of Dr. Wheeler's anthologies in the past, but I think this is his best collection ever.
on September 6, 2008
This was an "easy read" and the stories were very detailed, but the life of the man himself was handled on a broad "overview" basis, therefore, I need more. The book was thoroughly enjoyable, but it only whetted my appetite for a more comprehensive view of the life of our greatest president, his humble beginnings, and the events that shaped him into the "man for the ages." This book would be a great addition to an already established library of writings about our past presidents...I enjoyed reading the stories told, and you will not regret purchasing the book...read it, you will like it!
on April 9, 2013
In a time when values are changing, Christianity is being slandered, and slavery is returning, this book was refreshing. Abrahan Lincoln was a very Nobel man. And I can believe the stories, because my own husband both looks like him and has that same Nobel way about him. Nobility doesn't mean you were born in high ranking society. It means that you are not all about yourself, but that you have a genuine concern for others.
on January 31, 2013
I've heard of this man all my life. But little was said that I can remember about how many insurmountable problems he faced, not only in the presidency, but in his family life, and the opposition that never seemed to subside. But the patience of this man, and the strong indisputable faith he had in God shines in this book, like the morning star before the sunrise. Truth is, our country would never have survived the Civil War years, without someone who sought and followed God's leadership. Lincoln was God's man for the hour.