Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 Lincoln Prize Announced

Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute have announced that the 2011 Lincoln Prize will be awarded to Eric Foner for his book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. Foner, a named professor at Columbia University, has written several books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, including a couple of well-regarded volumes on Reconstruction.

Perhaps just as interesting as this award was the committee's decision to class all of the six other finalists with Honorable Mention status.

Though I have not yet read Foner's book, I imagine that it offers something recently lacking in books about Lincoln's views on race and slavery: a sophisticated consideration of a very complicated subject. Too often, Lincoln's words are judged by today's standards and understandings of race, which usually lead to unnecessarily harsh condemnation or a complete misunderstanding of the context in which they were made.

The Lincoln Prize will be awarded to Foner on May 11.

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