BOOKS

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

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Normally, I don’t read much historical fiction. The real stuff is just as exciting, with rich story lines jammed with as many twists and turns and interesting characters as any novel. But C. S. Lewis once wrote that “imagination is the source of meaning” and occasionally, I’ve found a piece of fiction that deepens my understanding of an historical figure. That’s the case with Stephen Harrigan’s "A FRIEND OF MR. LINCOLN," a beautiful volume that explores the mind and actions of the young Abraham Lincoln’s struggle. I use the word beautiful deliberately: Harrigan is a wonderful writer who uses the device of a friendship with a fictional Springfield, Illinois, poet and hotel keeper, Cage Weatherby, to illuminate the emergence in the 1830s and 40s of the man we know as the 16th president, a great man, yes, but a man with flaws, shortcomings, needs and doubts. The book is not a treat to read just because of the elegant prose. It is also informed by a deep understanding of Lincoln’s intellectual development, his manner his way of speaking and thinking. If you like reading about Abe Lincoln, buy this superb book. P.S. If you’re happy with the volume, then pick up Harrigan’s "THE GATES OF THE ALAMO" for reading at the beach this summer and you’ll have made a second great decision.
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What Karl's reading

After three years preparing The Triumph of William McKinley by reading very little but books, letters, articles and newspapers from the Gilded Age, I’m trying to get back into my regular routine, which I’ll chronicle here with an occasional review of what I’ve read.

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A massive British invasion fleet nears the coast, its target a key port on the far edge of the United States. 

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Not only does this volume have the best title of any book I’ve read in the past year, but it will keep you on the edge of your chair until you finish this tale.

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This is a riveting tale of brotherly love, tested in a time of global war.  The characters are vividly drawn, the action riveting and the suspense almost overwhelming. 

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My copy of PORTRAITS OF COURAGE arrived and I thumbed through it, expecting to take a quick look before adding it to my reading stack and getting to it in a few days.


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