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Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home 1st Oxford Universit edition Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195179859
ISBN-10: 0195179854
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lincoln spent more than one quarter of his presidency (all the fair weather months of 1862, '63 and '64) living not at the White House, but in a modest cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, a residence for disabled veterans just outside the capital in Maryland. Drawing on previously obscure manuscript resources-including the letters of soldiers assigned to guard Lincoln at his retreat-Dickinson College historian Pinsker does a first-rate job of illuminating this previously little-known slice of Lincoln's life. Here we have Lincoln with his guard down and his coat tossed over the back of a couch. He and his son Tad (Willie was dead by this time, and older son Robert visited only rarely) shared meals and stories with the soldiers bivouacked about the grounds. Company K Sgt. Charles Derickson recalled that Lincoln used to enjoy coming over to the soldiers' camp for a cup of "army coffee" and a "plate of beans." At one point, when the troops received defective socks, their complaints got the president's attention; a corrupt federal contractor wound up in prison. In addition to providing up-close-and-personal views of the soldiers' "friendly father Abraham," Pinsker also gives vivid accounts of the various moments in Lincoln's public life that occurred at or involved the Soldiers' Home, such as the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the firing of McClellan. All told, this account comprises that most rare of things: a book that actually adds to the Lincoln literature, telling us stories we haven't heard before.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A three-mile horse ride from the White House, the Soldiers' Home (an asylum for disabled veterans) was the Lincoln family's summer retreat. Historian Pinsker here builds a chronicle of the happenings at the Soldiers' Home from the testimony of about 75 people who memorialized their interactions with Lincoln there, including, Pinsker says, a guard whose letters have not been used by previous Lincoln scholars. Although his presentation is indeed on the scholarly side, it does afford an intimate portrait of Lincoln, down to his fondness for padding around in slippers. Writing soberly, Pinsker allows such details to speak for themselves, and most interesting for general readers, they reveal Lincoln's lackadaisical attitude toward his security arrangements. Parallel to quotidian affairs at the Soldiers' Home, Pinsker delves into greater matters that unfolded there, such as Lincoln's receipt of military news or his evolution toward emancipation. Ostensibly for an academic audience, Pinsker's study nevertheless exhibits hooks for the enduring popular interest in every aspect of Lincoln's life. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st Oxford Universit edition edition (April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195179854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195179859
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.9 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #727,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In each of the years he served as President of the United

States (minus the 11 southern states which seceded launching the Civil War!) President Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary and family would journey to the Soldiers Retirement Home about 4 miles from the White House. Son Robert would visit on his trips home from Harvard. Youngest Lincoln son Tad enjoyed the Soldiers' Home where he had a menagerie of pets; got to know the guard troops from Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio stationed there. Wife Mary was often vacationing in New England or shopping in New York.

In this atmosphere Lincoln enjoyed the camaraderie of soldiers; received visitors and enjoyed the company of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton living in a nearby cottage.

It was in this location that the President agonized over his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation; decided to fire

George B. McClellan and help plan the 1864 presidential campaign.

Every day Lincoln would ride a horse to the White House surrounded by mounted cavalryman. His wife Mary fell from her carriage in July, 1863 while traveling to the home. She was seriously injured .

Pinsker tells us of plots against Lincoln's life. He may have even been fired upon by an unknown assassin according to a soldier who reported this incident in his postwar memoirs.

Matthew Pinsker has written an outstanding book adding to our knowledge of the heretofore little known Lincoln residence at the Soldiers Home. The Home is now a National Landmark and is being renovated and opened for the public. One can imagine how awed poet Walt Whitman was as he saw Lincoln on his daily ride from the White House to the Soldiers Home.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was a wonderful find. I read it in two days on a business trip and found the writing style enjoyable, the research accurate and detailed while not at all overbearing, and the information very interesting. There are still very little details of the Lincoln's day to day activities at the Soldier's Home. None of the Lincoln's kept diaries and official documentation of purchases, visitors, and happenings were very casual compared to the entourage and details which follow a modern day president on vacation. But the author uncovered letters and diaries of the soldiers and visitors who were around the Lincoln's at this time and from these sources has discovered a wealth of information. The book parallels each of the decisive war time decisions made by Lincoln, and shows how his daily commute to the Soldiers Home from the White House and back, and the relaxing time spent with his family during summer nights and weekends, helped to shape some of his actions and achievements.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about Lincoln the person, with an interest in his politics and Civil War presidency. This book is a wonderful addition to the new writings on the Sixteenth President.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides new information about Lincoln and his family, which is highly unusual for someone as researched as Lincoln. Based on letters and recollections of the people who saw him there, this book gives a picture of Lincoln in robe and slippers away from the chaos of the war time White House. A definate addition to what is known about Lincoln.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lincoln's Sanctuary was recommended to me by one of my favorite professors of history, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, whose field is the Civil War. I'm glad he recomended it.

Not only does Pinsker show us a side of Lincoln we don't often see -- away from the White House, though still beset with concerns for the fate of the country -- but he also gives us a lesson in how history is researched and written. All through the book are commentaries on difficulties in research, bits about how a historian selects (yes, we do select), organizes, and approaches his or her material. It's a wonderful course in boots-on-the-ground history.

Lovers of American history, followers of Abraham Lincoln, history students, Civil War buffs -- there is a great deal in this book for all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives some perspectives on President Lincoln and his relationships that are quite interesting. The author has written the biography in a manner that is not typical of most books of this nature. Excellent job.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book because Amazon offered it at a minor discount - and I'm glad they did! It reads quickly and well, yet also provides decent insight into the Lincoln presidency and the role played by the Soldiers' Home, the presidential retreat. The book operates on many levels at once. It provides insight into the history of the Soldiers' Home, perspectives from the soldiers who guarded the Lincoln family there, and astute analysis of the president's day-to-day life during long summers at the Soldiers Home. The author does an excellent job of weighing and balancing historical information, artfully blending into the text his own assessment of different accounts' accuracy.

The most memorable part of this book is the incident of Fort Stevens, where Lincoln could not resist the temptation to view skirmishing between Union forces and Jubal Early's rebel raiders in July of 1864. The author separates legend from reality in this fascinating account of the only time a sitting American president has witnessed combat. The president's personal security was an ongoing theme vitally linked with his daily journeys between the Soldiers' Home and the White House. Pinsker describes numerous hair-raising incidents that suggested danger long before the fateful evening in Ford's Theater. Not a comprehensive biography of Lincoln, this title uses its limited theme to full advantage: by focusing on a narrow spectrum of the Lincoln story, he is able to bring the reader closer to the real man, his family, and his times than many other full-length biographies have ever done.
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