Archive for the 'Abraham Lincoln’s Influence' Category

Lincoln’s Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Lincoln artifacts on display @ WDFPL

Lincoln artifacts on display @ WDFPL

The author humanizes Abraham Lincoln making the work flow.

“If Lincoln were alive today, his depression would be considered a “character issue” – that is, a political liability.  But in his time, it may have helped more than it hurt.  While many found his moods odd and curious, the most common reaction was positive interest.  Even as he rose to great heights, people tended to feel sympathy for him.” This statement concisely explores a main theme of this work.  Biographer David Herbert Donald has observed, “Many of Lincoln’s advisors viewed him as a man who needed to be encouraged and protected.

Lincoln watched others attempt to pacify states threatening to leave the Union.  Watching these negotiations, Lincoln said plainly that he wouldn’t budge on the bottom line.  “Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery,” he wrote.  “Stand firm.  The tug has to come, and better now, than any time hereafter.”  This passage confirms the authors premise that Lincoln’s personal trials with depression steeled him in his conviction on the direction of United States growth.  Lincoln believed compromise on the issue of slavery would set a fatal example.

The book begins with brief analysis on Lincoln’s perceived intimate relationships.  The section needs more development as the text cannot include interview material from Mr. Lincoln himself.  Documentation is light and I suggest readers may want to consult work of additional authors as emotional relationships both male and female were permissible and sexual identity may have reflected societal norms of the time.  The author’s perspective appears rooted in polarizing views prevalent in today’s society.

I recommend this book as a means to expand one’s understanding and insights into the life of Abraham Lincoln.  The text is well-written and the topic well-researched.