Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Essential Lincoln Bookshelf

A lot of good stuff on the Lincoln Bicentennial website I have bookmarked in the margin, such as a lengthy Essential Lincoln Bookshelf. Curious how this matches up with Robert's, av's and other Lincoln shelves. You will all be pleased to know Team of Rivals made the shelf.

Also, reviews of recent and upcoming books in Forthcoming Books.


The Lincoln Bicentennial site is up and running again.


  1. Interesting, Gintaras. Taking a quick look through it, I'm sure I have none of those books. Well, maybe a couple. My guess is Robert has most.

    I only started reading about Lincoln after our discussion of Miller's first book, LINCOLN'S VIRTUES, at the Times. I liked that one so much, I read Miller's follow-up, on Lincoln's Presidency, when it came out:

    That wasn't as good, but sort of piqued my interest. I tend to read in waves, so I picked up two short books -- one McPherson's short bio of Lincoln:

    and another a short book based on a series of lectures on Lincoln and race:

    Then I read McPherson's TRIED BY WAR:

    Just as I was reading along on this particular wave, I was in the library and they had the Carl Sandberg "war years" out on the free shelf so I grabbed it! All four volumes. That one I haven't read, but still may.

  2. By the way, I think Marti is a big Lincoln fan. I know Chartres is.

    Last time we all read Lincoln together, Chartres and Robert almost got me to pick up the huge collection of Lincoln's writings that I see from time to time in Powell's when I'm in Portland. Haven't sprung for them yet, but might still.

    I moved a couple years ago into a smaller house, and I'm running out of bookshelf space. I'm thinking of converting part of the garage into an office at some point -- so I can have some more room and don't collapse the floors like in Nicholas Brisbanes' house -- he keeps an entire library in his basement.

    I blame all of you for this by the way.

  3. That's the problem with reading groups. I won't tell you about the new three-volume Library of America Bicentennial edition of Lincoln's writings, edited by Holzer and Fehrenbacher, which is on my wish list. However, I figure you can find most, if not all, of Lincoln's speeches and writings on the Internet.

  4. As our friend Reagan would say, "There you go again...." I never had this problem when I was reading on my own. My horizons were limited in those days!

    I'm interested generally in the late 19th - early 20th centuries and a lot of the original sources and books are now on the web, but once you get hooked on having access to books (not just information), it's hard to let that go.

    I'm by no means a collector like Robert is. I just buy whatever is cheap and available, although I have gotten into buying Robert Whelan reading list hardbacks when they come out.

    It's just nice to have a book to go back to (e.g., when I learned of AMERICAN MANHOOD, I now have that as a reference book -- I've referred to it now on a couple of occasions).

  5. AVRDS:
    I picked up AMERICAN MANHOOD at the library, but haven't cracked it open yet. I tried to link to the Lincoln booklist, but it needs repaired or something and I'll get to it as soon as it is. At last count I have 140 +/- books on Lincoln and 175 or so books on the Civil War. How many I've read, I have no idea...In the last year I bought 18 or 19 new Lincoln books only 3 of which I've read. I have not read TRIED BY WAR--how is it?. Just finished THE LAST TYCOON (Cornelius Vanderbilt) today and found it excellent. I'm starting TEAM OF RIVALS tonight and, since you brought it up, I'll read MELLON next.

    I read Miller's books on Lincoln really good--both of them.

  6. I ran out of space years ago--but still find niches and little corners to put books in. I do have a rule and that is never, but never, stack books on the floor. They must be neatly shelved, look orderly without a hint of the cluttered look. I also have boxes stacked in the closet and crates filled with those I've read over the last few years (maybe 200 or so). The crates are neat and not cluttered. My apartment is more like a library and museum than a living arrangement. I'm yet to catalogue thm, although that's the real reason I bought a computer ten years ago. I can decide how I want to set up the catalogue.

  7. I checked the links, robert. It appears the entire Lincoln Bicentennial site is down. Will check again later.

  8. Robert:

    We discussed Tried by War a little bit at the old site. It was okay, but not as good as Miller's book on the presidency which really gave the impression of being on the ground with Lincoln as he made decisions and dealt with crisis after crisis. Miller's book sort of ran out of steam towards the end -- it was as if he just didn't have quite enough material -- but it was still so good I wanted to press it into Obama's hands for the Iraq war. Now, of course, it's Afghanistan that he has to deal with. What a mess he was left with.

    The McPherson book was, by his own admission, just a rewriting of existing scholarship, focusing on the war and then mostly on the generals. It was amazing Lincoln could get anything done with the generals he had to work with.

    Marti also read this book and might have some other comments about it.

    I think you will really like the Mellon book. It was commissioned by the family, but they chose Cannadine, an odd choice as he himself points out since he's a left-leaning British historian. He's an excellent writer -- I've read several of his books -- and seems to have actually liked or at least sympathized with Mellon in the end. I think reading this one, the Carnegie, and the Vanderbilt biography would give you a pretty comprehensive view of that period of time. I may try to do that at some point.

  9. I am guilty of the books on the floor arrangement, although I'm working on it. I had a house guest recently so scooped up a lot of books and put them in boxes and stacked them in the corner until I can figure out how to deal with them.

    Since the move I've only taken out the books I need for work, for my exams, and for the dissertation. And most of the Whelan books, although some presidents seem to be missing -- like Washington hasn't appeared yet.

    The rest is in boxes in the garage, along with half of my other stuff that I still haven't bothered to unpack. I'll get to it eventually I suppose.

    For what it's worth, when he lived in Georgetown, Larry McMurtry, the ultimate book collector, kept books lined up in stacks on his floor and all along the steps going upstairs and in all the rooms. I don't think he had much in the way of furniture but he did have wonderful books!

  10. As for American Manhood, I haven't read the entire book, just the part on the 19th and early 20th century. I was particularly interested in his take on Roosevelt and the changing standard of masculinity. It's interesting how these ideas of manliness and femininity are constructed, and how many of the ideas from these early periods impact us even today.

  11. Robert, if you have a high-speed connection, you may enjoy this. Nicholas Basbanes writes about "the gentle madness" of book collecting, and gives a tour of his own home and gently mad library as he talks about it: