Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Lincoln Books This Week

When it rains, it pours.  The second significant edited resource related to the Lincoln assassination is released this week.  Last week, it was a first-hand account of the incarceration and trial of the eight conspirators arrested in the days after Lincoln's death.  This week, it is a massive volume of the documentary evidence of the main investigation into the murder of Abraham Lincoln and the attempted murder of Secretary of State William Seward.

Releasing March 23

The Lincoln Assassination: The Evidence edited by William C. Edwards and Edward Steers Jr. (University of Illinois Press, 2009, hardcover, 1488 pages)

This may be the essential resource book on the assassination.  Reportedly, this collection includes all of the documentary evidence amassed during the 1865 federal investigation into the plot surrounding the Lincoln assassination, including the attempted murder of Secretary of State William Seward.  This includes all "statements, affidavits, interviews, exhibits" gathered by the military investigation, according to Steers' personal website.

An image of the Table of Contents is available online, which is unhelpful.  Aside from the typical editorial introductory sections, the 1400 pages of documents are listed as "The Documents."  A parenthetical comment explains that the documents are grouped chronologically by the addresser's last name, or by subject of the document where no addresser is listed.  There does, however, appear to be a significant (50+ page) index, which should help in locating specific documents.

According to the University of Illinois, William Edwards has spent years transcribing many of the documents in this collection, most of which would have been handwritten.  I cannot even begin to fathom how much time and effort that would take.  Paired with Ed Steers, who is the foremost expert on things associated with the Lincoln assassination, this work is in good hands.  This huge effort puts a wealth of primary information at one's fingertips (if only at a research library because of the $100+ cost of the volume), and hopefully will influence more good analysis of these turbulent months in future years.

1 comment:

David Chafin said...

Josh - impressive! If you ever get your hands on this book, let me know what it feels like.
David