Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
A great resource
on July 15, 2008
This was such an engrossing and captivating book that I read it in only a couple of days. Of all of the many, many, many books already published about President Lincoln, this one is a most worthy addition to the canon. For many people who have grown up treasuring or swearing by urban legends or outright historical falsehoods (such as Betsy Ross making the first American flag or President Washington chopping down a cherry tree), it can be hard to be confronted with the facts demolishing the legends, but intellectual honesty and historical truth should matter more than preserving a myth just because it makes one feel good or because it's been repeated so often that it's taken on the stature of truth.
I've read a lot about President Lincoln since I was a child, but some of the legends in this book were new to even me, such as the stories about his supposed out of wedlock birth, his alleged late-night baptism in a freezing river, and "Peanut John," the boy who held Booth's horse while he was inside of Ford's Theatre on that fateful night. Other topics covered include Dr. Samuel Mudd (was he or wasn't he an innocent doctor caught in the wrong place at the wrong time?), the true nature of the relationship between the young Abe and Ann Rutledge (I was kind of disappointed to learn that they may not have had a romance, though there is still no conclusive evidence in either direction), the modern-day myth about President Lincoln being gay, the "lost" draft of the Gettysburg Address, and Andrew Potter, the man who never was. Some of these legends may be more interesting to Lincoln scholars than to the general public, but they're all interesting. Some of them even made me laugh, like the one about his supposed true paternity and the totally implausible scenario for his alleged secret late-night baptism in the freezing December weather. There's something in here for everyone who has more than a passing interest in our greatest president.