Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
remains one of the most studied figures in American history. His presidency is a
standard that the nationís chief executives still measure their rate of failure
and success. So much has been written on Lincoln, yet more articles, thesis,
dissertations, and books continue to appear. The bicentennial of the birth of
Americaís sixteenth president has inspired even more study of Lincolnís life an
Ron Elliot, a well known Kentucky author and
raconteur, and John Snell, one of the commonwealthís most talented
photographers, have added their views on the "Great Emancipator." While
"picture" books abound on the life and times of Lincoln, Elliot and Snell have
put together a delightful compilation of pictures and words that follows the
life of Lincoln from his Kentucky birth, to his untimely death at Fordís
Through the Eyes of Lincoln, Acclaim
Press, 2008, endeavors to put a fresh face on the Lincoln story by visiting the
sites that are associated with the his life. The photography is stunning, and
definitely has artistic merit. The text by Ron Elliot, while having a homespun
wit that Lincoln would have appreciated makes no attempt at being a formal
interpretation of Lincoln. Biographers and historians will have difficulty with
the book because of its lack of footnotes, and a rather slim bibliography.
However, Through the Eyes of Lincoln is not meant to be a scholarly work,
instead, it is a book for the public that gives an adequate overview of the
Acclaim Press has done a great job of
publishing a very attractive Lincoln pictorial. There are a few irritating
typographical errors, and one cut line states that Lincolnís bid for the
presidency in 1860 was the first presidential campaign for the Republican Party,
when in fact, John C. Fremont ran on the Republican ticket in 1856.
Nevertheless, the work has much to commend it. Some may question the choice of
some of the photographs, but that is more a matter of personal taste than any
shortcoming of the work.
Through the Eyes of Lincoln is a
bicentennial book that makes it an automatic collectorís item. It is also a
handsomely packaged work. It is more of coffee table book, more than a biography
or history, and that should make it more popular with the book buying public.
Snellís photographs are a plus to this work, and Elliot has a mischievous,
homespun wit that readers will enjoy.
Altogether, Through the Eyes of Lincoln
is well worth the purchase price of $34.95, and is an enjoyable pictorial look
at the life of Americaís greatest president.
Ron D. Bryant
The Journal of Kentucky History and Genealogy
Ron D. Bryant serves as manager of Waveland
Historic Site and historian for the Kentucky State Parks System. He is the
author of over three hundred articles of Kentucky history, and compiled the
Bibliography of Kentucky History, published by Greenwood Press in 2000. He
has recently completed a bicentennial book on Jefferson Davis to be published in
the summer of 2008. He had taught American and European history at the college
level for the past twenty-five years.