My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley, and I honestly did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. It was a quick read, and I found it surprisingly informative. There are quotes and excerpts from every possible source, and they range from personal to political. Many of them seemed quite informal and considering his background and what I have pieced together, I’m guessing he wasn’t a particularly formal man. One of the funniest excerpts, and my personal favorite, is from a letter to a little girl. She had apparently written to him and suggested he grow a beard to which he responds by essentially telling her people might think it’s silly. However he obviously did grow that beard and looked very distinguished with it!
He made a lot of truly insightful observations, which he articulated in a very uplifting and inspiring way. I can understand why he was both loved and hated. Around half the quotes in this book are related to the slavery issue, but to my surprise he was not only against the enslavement of his fellow man but advocated equal rights as well. I had no idea any white person in the United States living in those times was even capable of viewing any black person as an equal. He made so many true and eloquent arguments against slavery and for equal rights, that my mind is boggled. Though there were many more persuasive and articulate quotes, the one which appealed to me most was a simple argument where he points out one of the many faults in the logic of slavery. If a person with lighter skin has the right to enslave a person with darker skin, then that person will be the slave of the first man he meets with lighter skin than his own, and I am of course paraphrasing. His ideals were leagues above other men of his day.
Until I read this book, I had never given much thought to what sort of man Abraham Lincoln really was. Like nearly everyone else, I have a tendency to automatically dismiss any politician as being a liar no matter how much good they do. I have accepted the idea that the only people who have power, are bad people, and I must choose which I think are the lesser of those evils. I now find myself fostering a bit of hope for some future leader who will make great changes for our country. I also wonder what it might have been like to know Abraham Lincoln; what it might have been like to engage him in some rousing philosophical conversation. What an interesting and challenging friend he must have been. The cleverness, wit, intelligence, humor, and progressive thought he displays in these quotes is nothing short of phenomenal; the words of a truly Great Man.