Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.
Walking in Lincoln’s footsteps
Visual and textual chronology a winner
By Clint Schemmer
The Free Lance-Star
HOW POOR was Abraham Lincoln? This much: As a boy, his most remunerative hours were spent butchering hogs, at 31 cents a day.
When two men tossed two silver half-dollars into his rowboat after he rowed them to their steamboat near his family’s homestead, it was life-changing. Never before had he made such a sum in one day; now, he realized, he might do better by the dint of his labor.
That’s one speck of the riches to be found in “Abraham Lincoln’s Traveled This Way”—a quiet but powerfully moving and gorgeously illustrated meditation on Lincoln’s life and the places it touched.
There may be a million books written about our nation’s 16th president, but there is none like this one. Find a copy, and savor it.
For anyone interested in getting to know Lincoln the man, and his world, this may be the best book published for our modern, attention-deficit-driven era. Its pairing of images and text is pitch-perfect.
I devour books on Lincoln and his day, but this one is unique. You read Lincoln’s own words and those about him by his contemporaries, meshed thoughtfully with exquisite photographs of the landscapes, homes and buildings touched by his life, and the effect is profound.
Nothing else connects you with the arc of his life in such a way. At least nothing that fits into something smaller than a museum, or a full-length feature film.
Readers will experience the full sweep of the frontiersman–ferryman–militiaman–shopkeeper–inventor–lawyer–politician’s time on earth. It’s all here, from lonely backwoods boyhood to trial-lawyer travels to “a house divided cannot stand” speechifying to presidency-in-crisis.
Yet there is much here that is fresh and new.
Readers will see the Mississippi River that opened his eyes to the wider world (including the horrors of slavery) and the beauty of his Midwest prairies and woods. They’ll visit the only largely original log cabin linked to him (a cooper’s shop where he read by firelight), the only two still-working courthouses from his days following circuit-riding judges, the only Lincoln–Douglas debates site left intact.
And all the familiar places are here, too. To see such a wealth of places would require many, many years of the most dedicated travel.
That this author-and-photographer team have brought it to our doorsteps is phenomenal—and a powerful testament to the man many consider our greatest president.
Clint Schemmer is a writer and editor for The Free Lance–Star.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN TRAVELED THIS WAY
By Michael Burlingame and Robert Shaw
(Firelight Publishing, $36, 276 pp.)
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