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Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 18, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Book Description

In honor of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, an extensively researched, lavishly illustrated consideration of the myths, memories, and questions that gathered around our most beloved—and our most enigmatic—president in the years between his assassination and the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. A sequel to the enormously successful Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography, Looking for Lincoln picks up where the previous book left off, examining how our sixteenth president’s legend came into being.

Availing themselves of a vast collection of both published and never-before-seen materials, the authors--the fourth and fifth generations of a family of Lincoln scholars--bring into focus the posthumous portrait of Lincoln that took hold in the American imagination, becoming synonymous with the nation’s very understanding of itself. Told through the voices of those who knew the man--Northerners and Southerners, blacks and whites, neighbors and family members, adversaries and colleagues—and through stories carefully selected from long-forgotten newspapers, magazines, and family scrapbooks, Looking for Lincoln charts the dramatic epilogue to Lincoln’s extraordinary life when, in a process fraught with jealousy, greed, and the struggle for power, the scope of his historical significance was taking shape.

In vibrant and immediate detail, the authors chart the years when Americans struggled to understand their loss and rebuild their country. Here is a chronicle of the immediate aftermath of the assassination; the private memories of those closest to the slain president; the difficult period between 1876 and 1908, when a tired nation turned its back on the former slaves and betrayed Lincoln’s teachings; and the early years of the twentieth century when Lincoln’s popularity soared as African Americans fought to reclaim the ideals he espoused.

Looking for Lincoln will deeply enhance our understanding of the statesman and his legacy, at a moment when the timeless example of his leadership is more crucial than ever.

Surprsing Facts from Looking for Lincoln
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

During the twenty days of his public funeral... ...more than a million mourners looked at the face of Abraham Lincoln.
There was an attempt to steal Lincoln’s body from its tomb in 1876. For years afterward it was hidden in a basement while the public believed it was still inside its sarcophagus.
Robert Lincoln was present or close at hand at three presidential assassinations--his father’s, James Garfield’s, and William McKinley’s--leading him to believe that his life was cursed. For years after the Civil War, Lincoln was hung in effigy in some southern homes, whereas John Wilkes Booth was hailed as the courageous slayer of an American tyrant.
Lincoln’s dog Fido met the same fate as his illustrious master, and was “assassinated” by a town drunk. The Lincoln penny, issued in the Centennial year, was the first U.S. Coin to bear the image of a historical figure.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The Kunhardts use the family's vast collection of Lincoln photographs, started in the late 19th century by Frederick Hill Meserve, combined with concise commentary and valuable first-hand accounts, to illustrate Lincoln's postmortem life. The Kunhardts trace the circuitous route by which the assassinated head of state morphed into a cherished figure as much of myth as of history. The profusely and beautifully illustrated volume-the companion to a PBS special to air in winter 2009-is loaded with rarities: never before seen letters, photos from the 1901 unearthing and re-interment of Lincoln's remains, and first-hand reminiscences from numerous Lincoln intimates, all of them rich with telling detail about the man. Fascinating anecdotes abound, such as Robert Lincoln's shunning of the dedication of the memorial housing the presumed Lincoln birth cabin, which he said commemorated nothing but the "degradation and uncleanliness" of his father's humble beginnings. All in all, the Kunhardts' book represents a visual and literary feast for all devotees of the sacred national idol that is Lincoln. 910 color photos and illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307267139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307267139
  • ASIN: 030726713X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #671,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln will be upon us next year, and there will be ceremonies, re-dedications of memorial buildings and statues, and plenty of books. It is hard to imagine that any of the books will surpass in beauty and significance _Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon_ (Knopf) by Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, and Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. The reason there are so many Kunhardts as authors is that they are a family that for five generations has been involved in Lincoln scholarship and collecting Lincoln memorabilia; some of this Kunhardt clan has already brought us a well-regarded illustrated biography of Lincoln. Now they have turned their view to what happened after Lincoln's death; the book starts with the assassination at Ford's Theater, and covers the next sixty years, as the nation first came to grips with its loss, then tried to come to terms with what Lincoln had meant and had intended for his nation. This is a big book, lavish with photographs on every page, pictures of Lincoln (an appendix shows every photo known), the homes he came from, his family, his associates and enemies, the first attempts at biography, and the commemorations that were performed through the years. It is also a sobering book, as a theme that runs through it is how the nation gradually concentrated on the comfortable image of the Lincoln who had led a war to keep the Union together, rather than the Lincoln who had freed the slaves and made them citizens.

Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, 16 April 1865. Telegraph reports of his death went out the next day, and clergy had to rearrange their Easter sermons to reflect the shock of a first presidential assassination. It was the start of a national sainthood for America's Savior.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't even know where to start.. I anticipated this release hoping it would have some great photos and archive info... it bypassed my expectations by leaps and bounds.. the photos bring to life an era of our history that many only know the outline of.

The good , the bad and the ugly all team here with anything you ever wanted to know and things you didn't.. EVEN if you are not a history fan it is NOT a dry read. You can also go at your own pace.. flip to sections , etc.. its the visual of a coffee table book but one you WANT to read and pick up time and time again.

From the cover photo (Lincolns beaver hat the day he was shot) to the history of anything Lincoln, it is a page turner. over and over again, everything draws you in. I felt like I could touch the dust on Lincolns hat, or see the expressions of the people and the mood of the nation at his death. It is not a bunch of antique potraits, (yes those are there too) but many candid shots as welll along with letters, stories, news and unedited first hand accounts. The reminder that these were real people in a very real time.

If I could write these authors I would do it in a heartbeat.. I read a great deal and own probably over 1000 books that cover many genres. History is on of my favorite.. but this book... besides being visually stunning, is a must have for historians, and the curious alike.. get this, you will NOT be sorry.. it is nothing short of spectacular!
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By KBM on December 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For anyone who is interested in the history of Abraham Lincoln and how his life impacted our history this book is a wonderful resource. Outstanding photographic history and a well balanced view that considers the pros and cons of how many of his contemporaries viewed the legacy of Lincoln.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am the kind of person who loves the story after the story. For this reason, I was enthralled by Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon by Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, and Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr... Looking for Lincoln actually serves as an epilogue to Lincoln's life, beginning with the last day of his life and ending with the death of his son, Robert Todd Lincoln, 60 years afterward.

This story actually began in 1865 with the birth of Frederick Hill Meserve. For 60 years, he served as "the country's preeminent collector and historian of the photographs of Abraham Lincoln." The Kunhardts' are his direct descendents, and are the 5th generation of this family to document the life of our 16th president. Through photographs, drawings, maps, letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, etc., the authors attempt to show how the legend of Lincoln evolved over time. Done in a diary format, this 497 page book is a companion book to the PBS special, Looking for Lincoln.

In addition to well-known facts, Looking for Lincoln contains much information that you would never find in other books. There are lots of stories, anecdotes, and trivia about Lincoln and those who surrounded him. There are sections about Lincoln's assassination, the conspirators, their trial, and their deaths. The authors follow Mary, Tad and Robert Todd Lincoln and write about events in their lives (including their deaths). Glimpses are given into the lives of cabinet members after the death of Lincoln. Lots of Lincoln biographies are summarized as various people fought to memorialize the "real" Lincoln. Robert Todd Lincoln fought with many over his father's legacy, including Osborn Oldroyd, who turned their Springfield house into a tacky tourist trap.
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