Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Acclaimed Lincoln scholars Wilson and Davis (coauthors, Herndon's Informants) have combed the large correspondence of Lincoln's law partner Herndon to discover every reference to Lincoln as a man, a public figure, and an almost mythological hero, and have selected for this book those letters that have substantive value as "information, anecdote, opinion, or speculation" about the president. Their work, part of a larger project to compile and edit all of Herndon's letters, interviews, and statements about Lincoln, which covered almost half a century, is a revelation not only about the constant demand for access to the private Lincoln, including his family life, religion, and habits but also about the process whereby biographers, politicians, and the public constructed their own perception of Lincoln to suit their own needs. The missives also show Herndon's own political and personal ambitions in trading on his connection to Lincoln. VERDICT No major reinterpretations of Lincoln emerge from these letters, but they offer insights into the making of the man in myth and memory that repay reading them in many ways.-Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Herndon's Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, published by William H. Herndon and coauthor Jesse W. Weik in 1889, still stands as one of the most influential biographies of the 16th president. More so than any other biography, it sketched Abraham Lincoln's personal habits and tastes during his pre-presidential years and established how Americans came to understand his character and bigger meaning. Herndon, Lincoln's law partner from 1844 to 1861, knew the Great Emancipator as well as anyone. After Lincoln's assassination in 1865, Herndon began a decades-long research project, obsessed with uncovering little-known details of his late friend's life. In this meticulous documentary edition, Wilson and Davis have gathered 286 of Herndon's letters, dating from 1844 to 1891, to friends, publishers, and ordinary citizens. The correspondence is a treasure trove for Lincoln scholars because Herndon expounded on such topics as Lincoln's relations with women, his attitudes toward religion, his reading habits, his fatalism, and his domestic life. Herndon's voluminous and detailed letters, identified and annotated expertly by Wilson and Davis, confirm the late Lincoln scholar David Donald's observation that "To understand Herndon's own rather peculiar approach to Lincoln biography, one must go back to his letters." Summing Up: Essential. For all college and university collections. --John David Smith, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis are codirectors of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois, and the coeditors of Herndon's Lincoln and The Lincoln-Douglas Debates .