Friday, September 07, 2007

Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America by Andrew Ferguson

When I see another book about the Kennedy family, the Bushes, the Clintons, Princess Diana, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, or Ronald Reagan, I think "Oh, bother! Another book to buy. We have enough." I never feel this way about Abraham Lincoln. It is often said that there are more books about Lincoln than any other American figure, but that does not bother me. There always seems to be something new and worth reading about Lincoln .

So, I was eager to read Land of Lincoln by journalist Andrew Ferguson, who visited Lincoln sites across the country. In his book he begins by going to Richmond, Virginia, where Lincoln haters gather to protest the unveiling of a statue of the President and his son Tad. In subsequent chapters, he visits statues, museums, and historical sites, noting how the Lincoln story differs and evolves. He even takes his family on a Lincoln Trail summer vacation that leads to many odd discoveries.

Though I liked them all, Chapter 7 "Abe Lincoln and the Secret of Success" may be my favorite chapter. Ferguson describes how the self-help book business has abused the Lincoln legacy, twisting his words for profit. He really slams Dale Carnegie and his early editions of How to Win Friends and Influence People. He also describes a seminar he attends where Lincoln is described as a CEO who has taken over a company with half the employees on strike. Throughout, Ferguson's comments are sharp and funny.

Now that I am finished with the book, I have some trips to make, first to the Chicago History Museum, then to Springfield, Illinois. There is always more to learn about Lincoln.

Ferguson, Andrew. Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007. ISBN 9780871139672

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