Faculty Book: Fred Kaplan
Lincoln, The Biography of a Writer
For Abraham Lincoln, whether he was composing love letters, speeches, or legal arguments, words mattered. No president since has written his own words and addressed his audience with equal and enduring effectiveness. An admirer and avid reader of Burns, Byron, Shakespeare, and the Old Testament, Lincoln was the most literary of our presidents. His views on love, liberty, and human nature were shaped by his reading and knowledge of literature. Kaplan focuses on the elements that shaped Lincoln's mental and imaginative world; how his writings molded his identity, relationships, and career; and how they simultaneously generated both the distinctive political figure he became and the public discourse of the nation. This unique account of Lincoln's life and career highlights the shortcomings of the modern presidency, reminding us, through Lincoln's legacy and appreciation for language, that the careful and honest use of words is a necessity for successful democracy. Fred Kaplan is a distinguished professor emeritus of English at the Graduate Center.
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Submitted on: OCT 28, 2008