Lincoln: A Foreigner's Quest

Morris, Jan

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2000
ISBN 10: 0684855151 / ISBN 13: 9780684855158
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New York. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 12. 207 pages. February 2000. hardcover. Jacket design by Robert Kester. 0684855151. keywords:. inventory # 27611. FROM THE PUBLISHER - Brash and skeptical when she first came to the Unites States in the 1950s, Jan Morris cast a decidedly dubious eye on the sainly image of Abraham Lincoln and the log-cabin-to-the-White-House legend that surrounded him. In innumerable visits over the last fifty years, she has tried to make up her own mind about the sixteenth president, and after nearly half a century she has crystallized her conclusions in this unique portrait-part historical fact, part travelogue, part reconstruction, part personal specualtion-her first book on American since the acclaimed MANHATTAN Ď45. Renowned on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the finest writers on history and travel in this century, Morris is part of the long tradition of foreigner observers who are able to illuminate America for Americans. In Lincoln: A Foreignerís Quest, she looks at Lincoln with her singular perspective, and the result is a historical journey free of sentiment and nostalgia. Morris has not only traveled wherever Lincoln traveled, from his alleged log cabin birthplace to the box in Fordís Theater where he was assassinated, but she has willed herself into his time and, with wit and sagacity, she brings us as close as she can to the presence of the man. She conjures him in both his personal and public capacities-politician and father, commander-in-chief in a time of national calamity, orator, and husband. We sit in the chair of an Illinois judge as Lincoln the lawyer argues a case. We hear from across the road in Springfield of Lincolnís household squablles with his wife. We take tea with President Lincoln at the White House. We imagine his responses to the seductive comforts of a slave plantation, and wonder what would have happened had he come face-to-face with his celebrated opponent in the Civil War, Robert E. Lee. Morris excavates myths about Lincolnís mother, Nancy Hanks; his love affair with Ann Rutledge; his marriage to the unstable Mary Todd; and his often frustrated relationships with his Union generals. With her iconoclasm and humor and marvelous sense of place, Morris seamlessly blends travel narrative, history and biography with transatlantic insights into the origins of the American Empire to reveal the real Lincoln-maverick, artist, oddball, natural aristocrat. Jan Morris has written more than thirty books on the British Empire, Europe, Venice, Oxford, Sydney, Hong Kong, Manhattan, and Wales, as well as six volumes of collected essays and two autobiographical works. Her novel, Last Letters from Hav, was a finalist for the Booker Prize in London. She is an honorary D.Litt. of the Universities of Wales and Glamorgan, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). She lives in Wales. . Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: A unique and stimulating combination of travel journal, fully researched biography, and insightful history, from a respected travel writer, features an exploration of the many facets of the Lincoln legend including the myths, the man's wit, and his many tragedies.

Review: The greatest of all American historical legends, Abraham Lincoln's life has been told and retold countless times. Good, old Abe stands alone, a colossal figure of peerless achievements: the Great Emancipator, the deliverer of the Gettysburg Address, the president who saved the Union and paved the way for the destiny of the modern United States. It's more or less impossible to look beyond the layers of myth and legend now, but this is a different kind of biography: Whimsical, imaginative, empathic, it ambles through his life sketching an endearing though not unquestioning portrait of an American icon, seeking out the essence of the man. Jan Morris's motivation was the somewhat irritated incomprehension she felt when faced with the all-pervasive sainted status of the man on her first visit to the States in the 1950s. Since then she has explored and written about America extensively and it's clear that Lincoln was always somewhere at the back of her mind. After many years of gestation, her insightful musings make for an absorbing, fresh perspective on the man and his legacy.

The narrative follows a journey through the country, a manner of pilgrimage, tracing the remarkable transformation of Lincoln's life as he migrated from humble beginnings in Kentucky, via social respectability as a lawyer and politician in Springfield, Illinois, and on to his ultimate destiny of the presidency and Civil War leader. The picture that emerges is of a somewhat eccentric man of deep contradictions: feisty and capable of ruthlessness yet genuinely kind; prone to periods of misanthropy yet also blessed with an appealing sense of humor apparent from self-deprecating remarks and aphoristic stories of enchantingly universal appeal and simple, homespun wisdom. Through it all, though, right up to the tragedy of which he reputedly had a premonition, this great man of destiny shines through as, essentially, a decent and straightforward man. The book does lack any pictures of the people and places in his life, perhaps a slight oversight, but, then again, in view of the richly evocative nature of her portrayal, easily overlooked. --Alisdair Bowles, Amazon.co.uk

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Lincoln: A Foreigner's Quest
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket
Edition: 1st Edition.

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