Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy 204th Birthday To You Abraham Lincoln

The political and personal life of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, has undergone a fascinating renaissance among historians and the general public alike. The current cinematic blockbuster, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, has earned 12 Academy Award nominations, and Barack Obama has proclaimed Lincoln his favorite President and political idol, but the sheer magnitude of Lincoln's life and times has always deserved to be treated with awe and respect: he was the first elected Republican President, led the country through the trauma of the Civil War, was a member of the House of Representatives, delivered the epic Gettysburg Address speech, and introduced the Emancipation Proclamation that ultimately abolished slavery.

Abraham Lincoln's 204th birthday is February 12th, and Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don't Know Much About History, has created a video tribute to Lincoln.

To continue teaching the inspiring legacy of Abraham Lincoln with your students, here are some books recommended for classroom use:

Harold Holzer, one of the world's leading experts on Abraham Lincoln, has just published an authorized companion to Steven Spielberg's LincolnHolzer served as content consultant on the movie, and has authored, co-authored, and edited an amazing forty-two books, including Emancipating Lincoln, Lincoln at Cooper Union, and three award-winning books for young readers: Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons; The President Is Shot!; and Abraham Lincoln, The Writer.

A fascinating close-up view of the Abraham Lincoln White House through the eyes of Lincoln's three personal secretaries: John Nicolay, William Stoddard, and John Hay. Sheds a new light on Lincoln—his brilliance and vision in a time of national turmoil and Civil War—by focusing on his relationships with the men who worked closely by his side.

Fred Kaplan explores the life of Abraham Lincoln through his use of language both as a vehicle to express complex ideas and feelings and as an instrument of persuasion and empowerment. This unique account of Lincoln's life and career highlights the shortcomings of the modern presidency, reminding students that the careful and honest use of words is a necessity for successful democracy.

The first new biography in almost 20 years of Mary Todd Lincoln, one of the most enigmatic First Ladies in American history. Abraham Lincoln is the most revered president in American history, but the woman at the center of his life—his wife, Mary—has remained a historical enigma. One of the most tragic and mysterious of 19th-century figures, Mary Lincoln and her story symbolize the pain and loss of Civil War America.

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness. Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal.

Historian Stephen B. Oates's acclaimed and enthralling portrait of America's greatest leader. Oates masterfully charts, with the pacing of a novel, Lincoln's rise from bitter poverty in America's midwestern frontier to become a self-made success in business, law, and regional politics. The second half of the book examines his legendary leadership on the national stage as president during one of the country's most tumultuous and bloody periods, the Civil War years, which concluded tragically with Lincoln's assassination. In this award-winning biography, Lincoln steps forward out of the shadow of myth as a recognizable, fully drawn American whose remarkable life continues to inspire and inform us today.

Explores the complex mythology surrounding the sixteenth President, including iconic images of Lincoln as Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, this work offers a penetrating look at Lincoln’s life and impact, indispensible for any student of great leadership, the Civil War, and American history. 

The Civil War was the first "modern war." Among the many modern marvels that gave the North an advantage was the telegraph, which Lincoln used to stay connected to the forces in the field in almost real time. By paying close attention to Lincoln's "lightning messages," students see a great leader adapt to a new medium. Watching Lincoln carefully word his messages—and follow up on those words with the right actions—offers a striking example for those who spend their days tapping out notes on computers and BlackBerrys.

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