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Lincoln's Body : A Cultural History
by Richard Wightman Fox


Overview -

In a stunning feat of scholarship, insight, and engaging prose, Lincoln's Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright "ugly" of aspect came to mean so much to us.

The very roughness of Lincoln's appearance made him seem all the more common, one of us--as did his sense of humor about his own awkward physical nature.  Read more...


 
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More About Lincoln's Body by Richard Wightman Fox
 
 
 
Overview

In a stunning feat of scholarship, insight, and engaging prose, Lincoln's Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright "ugly" of aspect came to mean so much to us.

The very roughness of Lincoln's appearance made him seem all the more common, one of us--as did his sense of humor about his own awkward physical nature. Nineteenth-century African Americans felt deep affection for their "liberator" as a "homely" man who did not hold himself apart. During Reconstruction, Southerners felt a nostalgia for the humility of Lincoln, whom they envisioned as a "conciliator." Later, teachers glorified Lincoln as a symbol of nationhood that would appeal to poor immigrants. Monument makers focused not only on the man's gigantic body but also on his nationalist efforts to save the Union, downplaying his emancipation of the slaves.

Among both black and white liberals in the 1960s and 1970s, Lincoln was derided or fell out of fashion. More recently, Lincoln has once again been embodied (as both idealist and pragmatist, unafraid of conflict and transcending it) by outstanding historians, by self-identified Lincolnian president Barack Obama, and by actor Daniel Day-Lewis--all keeping Lincoln alive in a body of memory that speaks volumes about our nation.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393065305
  • ISBN-10: 0393065308
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: February 2015
  • Page Count: 416
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - Civil War
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Presidents & Heads of State
Books > History > United States - 19th Century

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-12-01
  • Reviewer: Staff

So many books have been written about America’s 16th president that most re-tread familiar territory, yet historian Fox (Jesus in America) has struck gold with this unusual, finely crafted study. Proceeding from the assumption that Americans still love and revere Lincoln, Fox argues that the reasons underlying those feelings are rooted in the president’s physique. Though many found him physically unattractive, Lincoln’s body was claimed as a “symbol of republican simplicity and American self-making” by the American public while he was alive. That body took on new importance in death, elevating the assassinated president to martyrdom, and Fox provides riveting analysis of Lincoln’s funeral and the nation’s mourning. The final third of the book switches to the ways Lincoln has been remembered through the 21st century. Two television mini-series dedicated to him aired in the 1970s and 1980s, and for decades Disneyland featured a “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” exhibit. Hollywood produced its first Lincoln movie in 1930 and produced two more as recently 2012: one a prestigious Steven Spielberg biopic, the other a depiction of Lincoln as a superhero vampire hunter—making him a handsome leading man at last. Illus. Agent: Jill Kneerim; Kneerim, Williams & Bloom (Feb.)

 
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