In his survey of recent books about Abraham Lincoln published two weeks ago (which I mentioned in this post), longtime New York Times columnist William Safire suggested that there was an overlooked piece of among Lincoln monographs. Safire writes, "But what of books not being written about our 16th president? I'd like to see an anthology of "Lincoln's Greatest Mistakes -- or Were They?"" (emphasis in original).
While not promising a new book, Lincoln scholar Brian Dirck has stepped up to the plate on his A. Lincoln Blog, offering a series of entries on Lincoln's mistakes. As of this writing, he has published half of the list, which he's calling "Lincoln's Flubs," in reverse order from #10 to #6. So far:
- #10: Lincoln's attempt to own and operate a general store
- #7: Lincoln's extraordinary indulgence of two youngest sons
- #6: Lincoln's inattention to administrative details
Dirck's fine abilities as a historian are on display in his introduction to the series where he carefully lays out his criteria for judging Lincoln's mistakes. Many people, including some Lincoln authors, are rather anachronistic when they view Lincoln, judging him by the morality and/or the worldview of subsequent generations. Dirck promises to not fall into this trap, and based on his other writings, I'm confident he will deliver.
There are several blogs and websites about Abraham Lincoln now in existence, including Lincolniana. Some of them are quite good, others less so. I have long thought Dirck's A. Lincoln Blog set the standard. It offers a good mix of book reviews, reactions to Lincoln in the news, and original features (like this "Lincoln's Flubs" series), and it is consistently thoughtful, intelligent, and entertaining. I am always happy to point interested readers in his direction.