People interested in Abraham Lincoln will love this book about myths, hoaxes and confabulations connected with the sixteenth president of the United States. Edward Steers is a Lincoln expert who examines, with an eye to disproving, a variety of Lincoln legends. After Lincolnís death, many people got on the Lincoln nostalgia bandwagon to gain notoriety or for financial gain. Others wanted to disparage his memory, especially un-reconstructed Confederates.
Steerís telling of these legends is entertaining and informative. He also provides several photographs and illustrations, and the chapters are of a good digestable length. He introduces the legends and their impact on the memory of Lincoln or those connected with him like John Wilkes Booth. Some of the legends Steer examines:
Steers discusses some of the quotes attributed to Lincoln which he did not actually utter but that have became famous since he supposedly said it. When did Lincoln write the Gettysburg Address, was it a hurried creation or did he take time to ponder what he would say? Was Abraham Lincoln gay? Was Dr. Samuel A. Mudd an innocent bystander who performed his profession as a medical doctor to help the injured John Wilkes Booth, or was Dr. Mudd part of the assassination plot? Did Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton and other Republicans conspire with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Abraham Lincoln? Who was the man who held Boothís horse while he went in and shot the president?
- Is the cabin in the marble building or memorial at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Site in Hodgenville, Kentucky, the actual cabin that Lincoln was born in?
- Was Thomas Lincoln actually Abraham Lincolnís father, or was Abraham Lincoln a bastard?
- Two chapters deal with the love affair and death of Ann Rutledge, who might have been Lincolnís first love.
- Was Abraham Lincoln baptized a Christian?
- Was a member of Lincolnís family - his wife - a Confederate spy?
This is a fascinating and mysterious collection of stories about the legends of Lincoln or those connected with him. Steers refutes these legends and shows why they are false or do not have factual documentation connected with them. He researched using various sources like the National Archives, the Library of Congress and other primary sources and records. He provides endnotes and an index.
Harold Holzer provides an introduction to the book. The book jacket, designed by Richard Rossiter, has the top part of Lincolnís head covered with the stovepipe hat that Lincoln was known for. On the hat is the title, subtitle and authorís name. The tall hat could be seen as symbolically representing the tall tales that Steers examines.
Dr. Edward Steers, Jr. (Ph.D in molecular genetics, 1963) retired from the National Institutes of Health in 1994 and began his writing career. He is a recognized and award-winning expert on Abraham Lincoln and his assassination. He has appeared on various television channels like The History Channel, C-Spanís Book Notes and others. He is the Internet editor of the Lincoln Herald and an associate editor for North and South magazine. He is the author of Blood on the Moon (2001), His Name is Still Mudd (1997), The Quotable Lincoln (1996), Lincoln: A Pictorial History (1994), The Escape and Capture of John Wilkes Booth (1992) and of several articles. Lincoln Legends is highly recommended to Lincoln enthusiasts and those interested in his assassination.