My friends and neighbors--including students--willing to give me a hearing were gracious and many good private conversations have happened as a result, from taverns to supermarkets. Even though the bias--for which I am grateful--in this Whig area of the country (the town is named after Henry Clay’s estate in Kentucky) is in favor of Lincoln--both his mind and ways--it is fair to say many are surprised by Lincoln’s facility of expression and lucidity of thought. I meant to use his characterization of Douglas’ popular sovereignty, but forgot: "as thin as homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pidgeon that had starved to death."
A number of folks have asked me to list a few history books about Lincoln that are accessible to the general reader. So here are a few:
Allen Guelzo’s Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President has to rank as one of the best biographies, along with Charnwood’s Biography, which might be a bit off-putting to some because the prose is less familiar today (originally published in 1916); yet he captures the essence of his statesmanship and character as well as anyone. I think Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals is very good for the period of presidency; it is never misleading, and reads like a novel. This very short biography James McPherson is quite good. I didn’t think it possible to be able to do it in under seventy pages! Allen Guelzo’s Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction is almost as short, and is also excellent. Another just published biography, well written and not short, is by Ronald C. White.