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Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason Hardcover – November 14, 2016
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No one has examined Euclidian logic alongside Lincoln's rhetorical and written construction as thoroughly as Mssrs. Hirsch and Van Haften, and the results are startling. We continue to shed our shopworn image of Lincoln as a low-gear country lawyer as we learn more about his cases, and now with this study we see a wholly new angle of his brilliance -- which nevertheless must keep us wondering, How did Lincoln do it? Picking apart his Cooper Institute speech for its inner structure, for example, they reveal how deeply Lincoln had imbibed the classical principles of organization, and how it made him the lawyer and politician he was. Hirsch and Van Haften also offer a guidebook not just for attorneys bent on the same self-improvement, but the simple tools for anyone to do as Lincoln did: learn how to learn, and then demonstrate the rightness of your position. (James M. Cornelius, Curator, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum)
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Top Customer Reviews
The authors recite a long list of problems with Lincoln's arguments. The question mark after "Honest Abe" in the chapter's title seems to imply that he was less than honest. The authors make this implication explicit, over and over. Lincoln, they write, "confused the issue" and "stretched the math" (p. 48). He "finessed" the votes of three of the Framers (p. 50). He "employed a verbal shell game" by "overstating his conclusion" (p. 50). There was "weakness in Lincoln's argument" (p. 51). The genius of his speech was in "the skillful stretching of the context of the facts" (emphasis in original, p. 51). He "manufactured three votes" by giving them "a significance they did not have" (p. 51). He used "sleight of hand" (p. 53). Lincoln "slyly manipulated the counting" (p. 52). There was "carefully orchestrated equivocation" (p. 53). The facts Lincoln presented at Cooper Union were not in dispute, but the "stretch" he made was in "the legal effect of those undisputed facts" (p. 54). The authors suggest a possible violation of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
Lincoln was not dishonest. The authors write that "the issue Lincoln addressed was whether the Constitution forbids the federal government from regulating slavery in the territories.Read more ›
The book opens with a look at Lincoln as a student. Lincoln recalled his education as "readin, wrttin, and cipherin' and everything else learned "under the pressure of necessity". The authors maintain in "Unlocking Lincoln" that Lincoln transferred geometry into speech. The balance of the book looks at specific speeches and or incidents from Lincoln's life illustrating the development or application of this theory. The book's Appendix contains a series of Lincoln's speeches where the author's apply their idea illustrating how Lincoln applied Euclidean Geometry in each speech.
This is a serious and complex book. One author is an attorney and co-author of the technology column for the American Bar Association Journal. The other has a MS in mathematics and a PHD in electrical engineering. There is a series of charts and tables summarizing their ideas throughout the book. While not an easy read, it is not an impossible one. I followed the text with little difficulty for this type of book. The book is fully footnoted, indexed and contains a full bibliography.
This book will appeal to Lincoln scholars and mathematicians but is an informative read for our Civil War community. While not for everyone it is an above average book.
The appendices of the book contain a number of Lincoln's speeches, and letters. After reading the text of the book, I found these to be very interesting and informative. I don't usually spend much time in the appendix.
As a layman, the format of the book also helps provide a much better appreciation of the legal process. Time reading this book is well spent.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Insightful description and analysis of Lincoln's ability to think by using Euclidian geometry proofs. It's a thrilling revelation!Published 11 months ago by Roger Johnson
This is the book I wish had been written four decades ago, when I was heading for law school. Years later, after having digested some five dozen books on Lincoln, this text came... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Charles Teague
I love this book. The only thing that would make it better is if they gave us further resources like a Q &A forum. They aren't just sharing the secrets they learned. Read morePublished 17 months ago by El Coyote
This wonderful book is a superbly researched and developed insight into the brilliant and self educated mind of one of our greatest presidents. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Paul Gebolys
Enjoy the insight to Lincoln early life about his "education', entrance into practicing law, his process in developing his positions while defending a client as well as... Read morePublished on June 12, 2014 by Vito D'Alessandro
Impressive detail on a topic more folks should give thought to, and treated in a very readable and enjoyable approach.Published on January 28, 2014 by gmark99
I found this book to be very insightful about Abraham Lincolns thought processes. It verifies that he was an intelligent person with or without a college education. Read morePublished on January 4, 2014 by Marsha T
It's been a few years since I first read this book and I want to re-read so I can let it soak and take more advantage of its clear and powerful methods for persuasive writing. Read morePublished on July 27, 2013 by clytemnestra215
Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason by David Hirsch, Dan Van Haften
"Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason" makes the compelling argument that it was... Read more