Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home by Matthew Pinsker

Why would you read another book on Lincoln’s daily life? There have been so many. Why? Because the topic is really interesting and Matthew Pinsker has uncovered a story that has been mostly overlooked by other scholars. In Lincoln's Sanctuary, he tells how Abraham Lincoln and his family lived for three of their four summers in Washington away from the White House in a cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home, a hospital for disabled military veterans far north of the city center. The President commuted to the White House on horseback alone much of the first summer before his advisors began to worry about his safety. During the one hour ride, he often stopped to talk with people along the road. At the cottage he spoke with whoever dropped by, even late at night. Anyone could knock at his door. The author contends that many of Lincoln’s major decisions were made while residing at Soldiers’ Home. Throughout the book, Pinsker discusses Lincoln’s friendships and which cabinet members had the most influence. He comes to different conclusions than some other Lincoln scholars. Surprisingly few public libraries bought this title in its hardcover edition. Now that it is available in paperback others should consider it for their Lincoln collections.

Pinsker, Matthew. Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0195162064, Paper 0195179854

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