The Life and Writings of Abraham Lincoln (Modern Library)

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9780679603290: The Life and Writings of Abraham Lincoln (Modern Library)

Abraham Lincoln, the greatest of all American presidents, left us a vast legacy of writings, some of which are among the most famous in our history. Lin-
coln was a marvelous writer--from the humblest letter to his great speeches, including his inaugural addresses, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Gettysburg Address. His sentences were so memorably crafted that many resonate across the years. "Fourscore and seven years ago," begins the Gettysburg Address, "our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
        In 1940, the prolific author and historian Philip Van Doren Stern produced this volume as a guide to Lincoln's life through his writings. Stern's "Life of Abraham Lincoln" is a full biography of the man and includes a detailed chronology. Stern has collected all the essential texts of Lincoln's public life, from his first public address--a stump speech in New Salem, Illinois, in 1832 for an election he went on to lose--to his last piece of public writing, a pass to a congressman who was to visit the president the day after Lincoln went to Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865. Some 275 such documents are collected and placed in their historical context. Together with the "Life" and the Introduction, "Lincoln in His Writings," by noted historian Allan Nevins, they give a full and vivid picture of Abraham Lincoln.

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.

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Review:

He was the most eloquent of American presidents, with the possible exception of FDR, and the moral vision that sustained the nation during the Civil War illuminates nearly every page in this hefty collection of Abraham Lincoln's speeches, writings, and correspondence. It's not just the famous phrases--"mystic chords of memory" (first inaugural address), "government of the people, by the people, for the people" (Gettysburg Address), "with malice toward none" (second inaugural address)--that resonate. It's an artistic and political genius that could express complex ethical questions in simple, compelling language, as when Lincoln defined slavery's defenders as holding the "same tyrannical principle" as Europe's kings: "the same spirit that says, 'You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.'" Editor Philip Van Doren Stern's annotations provide helpful background, and his 200-page biographical essay ably encapsulates the principal developments in Lincoln's life and thought as they were known in 1940, when this volume was first published. The extreme privation of his youth, the terrible melancholy that often afflicted him, and the sorrows of his personal life make Lincoln's public achievements all the more staggering. Stern wisely respects the mysterious alchemy by which a plain man became a statesman; this respectful anthology seeks only to present Lincoln, not to explain him. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

The Modern Library of the World's Best Books

"There was a time when Americans were too near Lincoln to comprehend his full greatness. To a traveler standing near a mountain range many eminences seem to have approximately the same altitude; it is difficult to disengage Everest from his lofty neighbors. But as the range recedes in the distance, the highest peak lifts more and more above its fellows, until it alone fills the horizon. So it has been with Lincoln."--Allan Nevins

Includes:

"Lincoln in His Writings" by Allan Nevins
"The Life of Abraham Lincoln" by Philip Van Doren Stern
Chronology of Lincoln's life
275 original documents, addresses, speeches, letters, and telegrams, placed in their historical context

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