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Lincoln: A Novel (The American Chronicle Series) Paperback – February 15, 2000
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"A portrait of America's great president that is at once intimate and public, stark and complex, and that will become for future generations the living Lincoln, the definitive Lincoln. . . . Richly entertaining . . . history lessons with the blood still hot." --The Washington Post
"[Lincoln] is in Vidal's version at once more complex, mysterious and enigmatic, more implacably courageous and, finally, more tragic than the conventional images, the marble man of the memorial. He is honored in the book." --Chicago Tribune
Top Customer Reviews
LINCOLN is in essence exceptionally accurate history encapsulated in the form of a novel. I have read a spate of books on Lincoln and the Civil War and I was almost never able to fault his scholarship. In a note following the conclusion of the novel he indicates that the manuscript was seen--and corrected--by no less an authority on Lincoln than David Herbert Donald, who is arguably the supreme authority on Lincoln of this age. But accuracy would be an empty thing if the narrative were not enlivened by Vidal's remarkable skills as a writer.Read more ›
There are several reasons why I so strongly recommend this book.
First, this novel demonstrates exceptionally well the balance between self interests and loyalty, as exemplified in the Lincoln cabinet. Salmon Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury, and William Seward, the Secretary of State are finely portrayed characters. They both were positioning themselves in the Lincoln presidency to succeed him. This required careful political skills to appear supportive but make every move in regard to self interests. The passages where Lincoln wins over William Seward into a real honest partnership are masterful and my admiration for Seward soared. Salmon Chase on the other hand continues to play a careful game of undermining the President behind his back while playing the loyal servant to his face. The passage where Chase is eventually confronted by Lincoln, who was never fooled in the first place, is a wonderful example of the careful interpersonal chess moves required in political life.
Second, the novel does a wonderful job of demonstrating how difficult it is get someone to follow orders and do the job right. Lincoln remains totally frustrated with his generals, especially the handsome, charming General McClellan, with his own political ambitions. The man refused to engage the enemy. Lincoln eventually fires him and promotes General Grant. Mrs.Read more ›
In writing historical novels, it is difficult to tell where fact ends and fiction begins. This is particularly the case in dealing with a complex figure such as Lincoln whose life and political legacy remain controversial and subject to many interpretations. Controversial matters that Vidal addresses in his novel include Lincoln's attitude towards African-Americans and the Reconstruction policy that Lincoln might have pursued if he had lived. Vidal's book shows careful study of Lincoln's life and the Civil War era. He uses the resources uniquely available to the novelist to good advantage by probing the thought processes and feelings of his characters where historical evidence is lacking. I found the portrait of Lincoln compelling, but it is important to remember that Vidal is writing a novel.
Vidal's book begins as the President-elect arrives secretly in Washington, D.C. a few days before his inaugaration to thwart a feared assassination attempt in Baltimore. In the course of the novel, passages of recollection by various characters, reliable and unreliable, cast some light on Lincoln's earlier life. The book moves carefully and slowly, with a great deal of attention given, and properly so, to the earlier period of Lincoln's presidency. Much attention is given to Washington, D.C.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the book. It was a little slow in spots, but not enough to distract from the book overall.Published 25 days ago by J. Robinette
Very good. I like Gore Vidal's writing. It's informative and entertaining at the same time.Published 1 month ago by susan gilbert
You can definitely learn some new information, its a easy read even if history is not your favorite subject.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent characterization of the man and his contemporaries as well as the of the civil war. Excellent reading.Published 3 months ago by mary cline
This is my first Gore Vidal book. It was simply excellent. I'm now on to "Burr", which looks equally good.Published 3 months ago by Trooper