Top critical review
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Excellent Analysis but in an Excessively Long and Tedious Package
on January 20, 2008
Ronald White does an outstanding job analyzing Lincoln's second inaugural speech, supporting his work with both historical context and social context. However, this book is presented in a way that has little to offer for the casual reader.
Understanding the power within Lincoln's words, White breaks down this speech to reveal the methods Lincoln used to persuade his audience. He traces, from Lincoln's early history as an orator to his final years, the growth and development of our sixth president and the affect it had on his speech. White analyzes the strategies Lincoln employed to convey his message of reconciliation; instead of merely focusing on the speech, he also includes the responses it produced upon the listeners. He sheds light to many elements of the speech that are unseen by the average reader. With an overall solid argument, this book will leave the reader amazed at the power of Lincoln's subtle language, if only the reader could finish the book. And that is the trouble.
Turing an analysis of a 701-word speech into a 265 page book means boredom. White's analysis is substantial and perceptive but by analyzing almost word by word, he has turned this book into a tiresome read. The unnecessary details that White sometimes includes are overwhelming at best. His arguments are sound but the extreme amount of support he provides reduces their impact. The reader gets carried away and lost within the paragraphs of history that White uses to support his claims. While there is much to be gleaned from his pages, the unnecessary length of this book is extremely unappealing. If White were to reduce his book to a summary of his claims with minimal but concise support, this book would be much more effective.
This book is a worthwhile read as there is much to be learned from White's careful analysis but because of its length it is extremely unappealing and almost impossible to reader with interest.