Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Lincoln Books This Week

The spate of new Lincoln books continues with two important titles this week, both companions to bicentennial Lincoln exhibits in Washington, DC. While companion books are not always brimming with new scholarship, they usually have lots of high quality photos, and as such are to be recommended.

On January 27

Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2009, paperback, 128 pages)

This is the companion volume one of several Lincoln-related exhibits sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution this year. Unlike some of the other exhibits, the Smithsonian is clear that all of the artifacts in this are from the Smithsonian collection, including one of the few authentic stovepipe hats that can be proved to have been worn by Lincoln.

Here is the website for the exhibition, "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life." This exhibit at the National Museum of American History opened earlier in January and is tentatively scheduled to be open until January 2011.

I'm looking forward to visiting this exhibit when I'm in DC next. And I imagine I will have to pick up a copy of the book, if only for the photos, as a memento.

In Lincoln's Hand: His Original Manuscripts with Commentary by Distinguished Americans, edited by Harold Holzer and Joshua Wolf Shenk (Bantam, 2009, hardcover, 208 pages)

This book is the companion of the Library of Congress upcoming exhibit: "With Malice Toward None": The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition, which is scheduled to open on Lincoln's birthday. (Exhibit website not available; here's the Library of Congress press release.)

This is an intriguing volume, pairing photographs of actual Lincoln documents, personally written by Lincoln, with reflections from a mixture of famous Americans and Lincoln/Civil War scholars. And it is edited by Lincoln editor extraordinaire, Harold Holzer, which means that it should be good (most of his edited stuff is). And, while I haven't seen the book, I'm sure the photographs are high quality and well lit, meaning that these items will probably be easier to read than if you were looking at them directly.

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