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Land of Lincoln
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Before he grew up and became one of Washington's most respected reporters and editors, Andrew Ferguson was, of all things, a Lincoln buff. Like so many sons of Illinois before him, he hung photos of Abe on his bedroom wall, memorized the Gettysburg Address, and read himself to sleep at night with the Second Inaugural or the "Letter to Mrs. Bixby." Ferguson eventually outgrew his obsession. But decades later, his latent buffdom was reignited by a curious headline in a local newspaper: Lincoln Statue Stirs Outrage in Richmond. "Lincoln?" thought Ferguson. "Outrage? I felt the first stirrings of the fatal question, the question that, once raised, never lets go: Huh?" In Land of Lincoln, Ferguson embarks on a curiosity-fueled coast-to-coast journey through contemporary Lincoln Nation, encountering everything from hatred to adoration to opportunism and all manner of reaction in between. He attends a national conference of Lincoln impersonators in Indiana; seeks out the premier collectors of Lincoln memorabilia from California to Rhode Island; attends a Dale Carnegie-inspired leadership conference based on Lincoln's "management style"; drags his family across the three-state-long and now defunct Lincoln Heritage Trail; and even manages to hold one of five original copies of the Gettysburg Address. Along the way he weaves in enough history to hook readers of presidential biographies and popular histories while providing the engaging voice and style of the best narrative journalism. Ultimately, Land of Lincoln is an entertaining, unexpected, and big-hearted celebration of Lincoln and his enduring influence on the country he helped create.
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New books about Abraham Lincoln appear so often that the unique merits of each demand scrutiny. Ferguson's book is not so much a study of Lincoln as it is a study of modern American attitudes toward the 16th President. It is also a voyage of self-discovery by a former Lincoln buff and skilled journalist who crisscrossed America to visit museums and memorials, to observe pro- and anti-Lincoln gatherings, and to interview Lincoln impersonators, collectors, and others, all while striving to assess Lincoln's legacy. The result is an engaging and frequently witty confrontation between past and present that reveals as much about modern culture as it does about Lincoln himself. Patrick Lawlor's narration is adequate but often seems rushed. This is a book that might be better read-especially in an illustrated edition. Recommended with reservations.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Superb . . . This book belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff!" -- Jay Winik "Land of Lincoln is, as its title suggests, LOL, which is to say, laugh-out-loud funny. It's also a wonderful and serious book about the enduring impact of out greatest president, by one of our best and wittiest writers." -- Christopher Buckley "Wow! This is a fascinating book. With his usual humor and insight, but also with real polgnancy, Ferguson looks at how we see ourselves as a nation by exploring the way we choose to see Lincoln. The result is brilliant and amusing, but also deeply moving." -- Walter Isaacson "Now he belongs to the ages--including the age of kitsch, criticism, and yearning in which we live. Andy Ferguson, one of the best writers in America, tracks Lincoln through twenty-first-century America with humanity, clarity, humor, and passion--the very qualities of Lincoln himself." -- Richard Brookhiser "Andy Ferguson is the single most important writer about American politics. Abe Lincoln was the single most important American politician. The combination of Abe and Andy is--no other word will do--Lincolnesque. Land of Lincoln is like its subject: wise, funny, melancholic, virtuous, complex, tragic, undefeated, kind, stern, and possessed of a fund of wonderful stories. If you don't read this book you are on the wrong side of the twenty-first-century American Civil War, casting your lot with those who would secede from the union of good sense, good principles, and good humor." -- P. J. O'Rourke

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