A Just and Generous Nation: Abraham Lincoln and the Fight for American Opportunity by Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle (2015)
A Just and Generous Nation: Abraham Lincoln
and the Fight for American Opportunity
by Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle
Basic Books, 2015
There are few Americans that would argue against Abraham Lincoln’s place among the greatest Presidents in United States history. His brave yet humble leadership stabilized the union in the midst of its most dangerous trial, the Civil War. The result of that conflict, the freeing of the slaves, has been heralded as his crowning achievement. Yet there are some who claim the emancipation of the slaves was of secondary importance of the conflict.
Authors Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle make the claim in A Just and Generous Nation that Lincoln’s impetus for war was economic rather than moral. There is no doubt that economics concerns were important to the sixteenth president, as they have been important to every other man who has held the office. The authors write, “More than any other president, Lincoln is the father of the American Dream that all Americans should have the opportunity through hard work to build a comfortable middle-class life.” That statement is not controversial, and even their assertion that economics played a larger role in the Civil War than slavery is not without merit, but the conclusions drawn from those assertions smack of partisanship.
The first half of the book is a good overview of Lincoln’s ascendancy to the highest office in the land, and speaks to his own “hard work.” He had nothing handed to him; he was responsible for doing what was needed to achieve success in his own life. The second half of the book, however, begins to assign blame for later economic hardships to partisan politics and particularly Republican leaders (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Reagan, and the younger Bush), set against the “American Dream of successful middle-class society” presidents (Wilson, both Roosevelts, Johnson, Clinton, and Obama). The authors then turn around and state all too truthfully, “Politicians of both parties typically spend more time raising money for their political campaigns than working on legislation or governing.”
Certainly Lincoln was a shrewd politician that pushed for legislation that would eventually eradicate slavery, with or without the Civil War. I am not sure that I would assign the immorality of slavery to a lower rung of importance as the authors did, but they do make a compelling case.
A Just and Generous Nation starts strong and is interesting in its theory of Lincoln’s economic interests. History buffs may enjoy the read, though it is doubtful to shed much new light or change the minds of those who have grown to admire and emulate the Great Emancipator.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
by Seth Grahame-Smith
Grand Central Publishing, 2010
(paperback movie tie-in edition, 2012)
A fantastically imaginative vision of one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter takes the reader on a journey through Abe’s pre-political life of hunting the undead. Furious that his mother was taken from him at such a young age by creatures of the night, young Abraham promised in his long-lost journals, “I hereby resolve to kill every vampire in America.” While he was not able to accomplish such a lofty goal, he did protect mankind in the United States, and the Civil War played a very large role in keeping the vampire population of the late nineteenth century in check.
Author Seth Grahame-Smith has an extraordinary gift, writing the story as if it had really happened, as if Henry Sturges, one of Lincoln’s vampire allies, actually had bequethed the sixteenth president’s journals to him. Quoting extensively from the journals, as well as letters of friends and soldiers and newspaper articles, Grahame-Smith paints a picture of Lincoln as not only a great emancipator, but as a man destined to save the human race. Having been driven out of Europe, vampires found a new home and an easy blood supply in America. The only way to stop the spread of vampirism was Civil War, and the eventual freeing of the slaves in order to “starve the devils.”
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a terrific twist on alternate history, not proposing what would have happened differently had a different path been taken, but giving a different backstory to one of this nation’s most famous yet tragic men without changing the outcome…too much. It is an action-packed read, and highly recommended to those who are fans of Lincoln, Civil War history, or vampires.
Watch the trailer for the book:
The book has been adapted for the big screen, scheduled for a June 2012 release. Watch the trailer for the upcoming film:
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Now, I will need quite a bit of help in this endeavor. I have already spoken with some close friends who have agreed to help out, but I need to reach out to some total strangers as well. This article outlines how difficult an independent run can be, and so I figured it would be best to start way early.
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