Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 58.
- Review Date: 2007-12-31
- Reviewer: Staff
A highly readable general biography of the American icon, complete with replicas of notes, sketches and letters from the presidential collection, this book will delight Lincoln enthusiasts, as well as fans of American history. Wills's text is a well-written account of Lincoln's life, with nods to all of the recent scholarship—from Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 Team of Rivals to recent speculation over Lincoln's sexual orientation—without sinking into too much analysis or debate. Photos, portraits and engravings abound (though, chronologically, they're occasionally at odds with the text), and a dozen vellum envelopes bound into the book hold historic reproductions, including a leaf from Lincoln's school notebook, an 1860 presidential campaign banner and his handwritten copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Though a bit gimmicky, these replicas do provide unique insight into the man's elusive life; holding a letter from an impatient Mary Todd that begins, “I have waited in vain to hear from you... [but] will be charitable enough to impute your silence to the right cause,” one can almost hear the president's exasperated sigh as he turns to his writing desk. (Oct.)
Happy birthday, Mr. President
Unique among Lincoln books is Chuck Wills' Lincoln: The Presidential Archives, consisting of "intimate photographs, personal letters, and documents that changed history." Facsimiles of documents are inserted in pockets throughout this handsome volume, which also includes ample text about Lincoln's life. One may like to imagine parents and children handling and perusing these removable documents together: Lincoln's handwritten Emancipation Proclamation, his marriage license, his Civil War telegram encouraging Gen. Grant to "Let nothing delay . . . your military movements," the playbill for Ford's Theatre on the night of his assassination and the poster offering a reward for the capture of his killer. The quality of the photographic reproductions is excellent.