Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Couple of Other of My Favorite Books of 2008

I got into a bit of a Lincoln kick and read two very books about President #16, one from 2008 and one from 2007.
The more recent publication, James M. McPherson’s “Tried By War: Lincoln as Commander in Chief” focuses on Lincoln as the war time president. The thing I came out really appreciating about the man was his perseverance. Lincoln had to put up with generals who were at turns hardworking and self-serving, farsighted and foolish, brave and cautious.
His greatest frustration was the caution of his generals. Time and again he urges his generals to take the offensive, but they refuse to move until all the men and supplies are in place. But the generals never seem to believe enough men and supplies are in place, so the more mobile Confederates always seem to be at the advantage. Until he finds his men in Grant and Sherman.
I couldn’t help bet think of George W. Bush throughout the read. In spite of political pressures and military setbacks, both men held firm for victory. War is never tidy. But when it begins it is vitally important that the side of right wins. I believe right eventually won in the Civil War. And I pray that it will again, bringing freedom to the people of Iraq.
Andrew Ferguson’s “Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America” is a very different kind of book. It is set modern America and Ferguson travels the country investigating the historical sites of Lincoln’s life and the tributes that have been made to him.
Many people have made Lincoln anew in their own image. Ferguson is at turns sentimental and savage as he interviews Lincoln imitators (I’m sorry, “presenters”), museum curators and especially historians.
The thing I found most interesting in the book was how everyone tried to make Lincoln in their own image; much in the same way as we try to make God and Jesus in our own image.
A fun and enlightening read.

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