Customer Reviews: Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President
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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.
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on April 12, 2008
Most of Lincoln Legends is directed at buffs attracted by such arcane topics as the provenance of the Lincoln "birthplace" cabin, the final resting place (or more likely, places) of Ann Rutledge, whether Lincoln could have been baptized by immersion in the Sangamon River, and assorted odd notions about the assassination. A few chapters are of greater significance, among them the one spiking the myth of a "gay Lincoln" and the thorough examination of the "deceptive doctor," Samuel Alexander Mudd.

Steers writes well enough, but the book might have been improved by a more vigorous application of the editorial pen. Steers' method is usually to begin by laying out the mythological tale at perhaps too great a length and then to demolish the myth at the end of the chapter. This course often leads to wordy repetition. Books about myths and hoaxes are often fun to read; and this one is no exception, although it would have been better if it had been say, fifty pages shorter.
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VINE VOICEon January 9, 2010
Abraham Lincoln-a man who a lot of people agree that he was one of America's best presidents. With that adoration comes a lot of rumors, half-truths, and lies. Edward Steers Jr., who authored of "Blood on the Moon" a book about Lincoln's assassination (a book that I read and enjoyed), sets out to debunk some of the persisting Lincoln rumors.

I found the book to be quite interesting, especially since I'm always looking to read new material on Lincoln. I found the chapters dealing directly with Lincoln to be the most interesting. The ones that dealt with myths after Lincoln was assassinated were not as interesting to me. My favorite chapters were the ones about Abraham and Ann Rutledge (a story still not confirmed but I personally believe it's true), the Gettysburg chapters, and the chapter debunking some quotes that people attribute to Lincoln.

Being a Lincoln fan, I enjoyed this book a lot and I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in America's 16th President.
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on September 21, 2012
This is a very entertaining and easy to read book. Edward Steers has done the research well. Steers has written a concise, well documented and delightful romp through the myths and distorted tales about our 16th president. He has evaluated the evidence and corrected 14 popular myths about Lincoln and at the same time has managed to entertain the reader. I enjoyed it on my kindle immensely. The kindle edition is 284 pages.
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on March 29, 2011
I read this in one afternoon, and was very satisfied. Growing up near his Birthplace, I thought I was well read with regards to Lincoln and the various myths and legends surrounding him. The author found a few that I was unaware of, and provided a thorough and annotated, but not boring treatment for each. I would also recommend this book as a reference to students in the 6th grade and up as a great resource; it is a quick read and keeps your attention well. Within are good examples of debunking myths, and looking at the cherished legends of history with a critical eye.
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on August 20, 2009
This book is one of the best I have ever read I have learned more about Abraham Lincoln by reading this book then almost all the other books i have purchased and read. His life before he became a president was a very simple one but very interesting one also .Reading this book has gave me more and more insite into his life his legend and all the things that matter . It is like his life unravelling right in front of you from the first page to the last .He was a humble person as a man and as a president .Abraham Lincoln was an honus man 4he probably love life more then most people of today do. I salute the man that was our 16th president the only one worth saluting
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on February 11, 2013
I found this book to be somewhat interesting because I didn't know about some of the myths. Some sections just seemed a little long winded and could also be a little confusing (My Name is Mudd chapter or the Bixby letters section), though this could be because I just wasn't very interested in some of those sections which seemed to build a great narrative, give a long winded explanation to which it was false, then repeat the same information soon after...which leads to skimming. I feel if you are a big Lincoln fan you will enjoy this more. I am not sure if I have a bigger problem with the presentation or just the content. It just didn't draw me in like I expected.
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on September 21, 2012
I have heard some of these legends previously since I grew up 5 miles from Lincoln Memorial University and visited often tracing my finger over the glass case that held his death mask.
But you left out the biggest one of all and the most obvious truth.
The emancipation proclamation only freed slaves in states that had withdrawn from the Union. And the emancipation pro lamination was a law passed by one country against another country.
The BIGGEST legend of all is that Lincoln repeatedly said he would never have freed the slaves if he hadn't had to.
It's a legend I don't want to believe, but when you hear the same thing from lots of different people - who knows?
By the way, I didn't hear that until I moved to western Ky, 250 miles from LMU.
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on September 23, 2014
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on September 16, 2008
Not read the book but I bet it makes no mention of the raid that Lincoln knew a lot about but managed to avoid being blamed for because Stanton burnt the incriminating documents. THe Dahlgren/ Fitzpatrick Raid is a massive blot on Lincoln's supposed character.
Alan Lowe, Manchester Metropolitan University
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