Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words
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Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  280 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Widely considered in his own time as a genial but provincial lightweight who was out of place in the presidency, Abraham Lincoln astonished his allies and confounded his adversaries by producing a series of speeches and public letters so provocative that they helped revolutionize public opinion on such critical issues as civil liberties, the use of black soldiers, and the...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Vintage (first published November 14th 2006)
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Lincoln’s Sword tells the story of how Lincoln developed his writing skills, how they served him for a time as a hidden presidential asset, how it gradually became clear that he possessed a formidable literary talent, and it reveals how writing came to play an increasingly important role in his presidency. “By the time he came to write the Gettysburg Address,” Wilson says, “Lincoln was attempting to help put the horrific carnage of the Civil War in a positive light, and at the same time to do it...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Douglas L. Wilson, codirector of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and 1999 Lincoln Prize winner for Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln, has again won the Lincoln Prize for Lincoln's Sword. Wilson says the book resulted from his work transcribing Lincoln's most famous writings for the Library of Congress, where he was struck by Lincoln's literary craftsmanship and penchant for revision. While a few reviewers criticize Wilson's academic prose sty

Ryan Asmussen
Sword is such a strong example of compelling writing -- clear, insightful, particular, judicious, and passionate -- that I'd like to use a portion of it in my two high school courses as a model for my students. With every chapter, I found myself more impressed by Wilson's ability to take what, for some, would be a relatively dry subject (the rewrite re: diction, syntactical arrangement, etc.) and fashion from it such a compelling intellectual narrative. Sword effectively caused me to reevaluate...more
Development of Lincoln's writing style, which was one of the talents which served him best throughout the Civil War. Brilliant and thorough analysis.
I liked this book. Lincoln was a gifted man. The enduring nature of his words is a testimony to his understanding and skill.
Persuasion it is said, resembles a two-edged sword: the one side sharpened by reason, the other by emotion; and in the hands of a master there is no obstacle that can resist its force. If this is right, then it will do as a bridge between Douglas Wilson's book title "Lincoln's Sword" and the book's theme of Lincoln's writing and persuasive force. There are many areas that deserve comment, but I will restrict myself to a few only: the consistency of this theme; Wilson's ability to draw it out; th...more
One of a spate of books out recently -- no big surprise, given Obama's Illinoisness and studious evocation of Lincoln -- about the 16th president's ability as a writer and rhetorician. I haven't read the others, but I can say that there's a great 2005 article in the "American Scholar" about the subject that backs up Wilson's analysis of Lincoln's inaugurals, and the overall thesis: that Lincoln was a writer of extraordinary acuity.

This book can be a bit heavy going at times, but it's a terrific...more
Brian Eshleman
Most of my reviews are positive, but this is an unusually good book. It shows how Lincoln used his writing both to shape and to show his thinking. For him, his first response on an issue, no matter how critical or emotional it was, was to get his thoughts down in writing. From there, he could gain an objective perspective and shift his own thinking by degrees as he changed his wording. The author is able to show this by comparing the various drafts Lincoln went through and then his insistence on...more
Keith Kendall
Jul 31, 2012 Keith Kendall rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Keith by: Lincoln's Hand
Shelves: history
This plooding book seems to me to leave out the more intersting personal interactions that so shaped many of these documents. Wilson does disucss who helped Lincoln by making suggesions, but the context comes across as missing.

The material on the Emancipation Proclamation was interesting, but seemed to be missing something.

In short, the book concentrated on comparing various versions of Lincoln's various manuscripts. For those whowant a study of various versions of documents, this is their text....more
Jan 15, 2008 Melodee rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in language, or Lincoln
Recommended to Melodee by: Rebecca
Shelves: biography
This book deals with the writings and writing style of Lincoln. This is an area that has been neglected or entirely overlooked. It is very informative, and brings out the nuances of diction that one would tend to overlook if they were not pointed out, simply because his works read so easily. The book shines a new light on one of Lincoln's real talents, while at the same time telling us more about him as a person and politician.
I put this down, probably mostly because I'd just read Team of Rivals and was thoroughly Lincolned. The sustained focus on his writings is revealing & rich, but takes some tenacity. I would like to finish this some time when I've had a longer break between Lincoln books.
Thorough analysis of Lincoln's writing. Explained in context and with copies of original documents.
Susan Sons
A must-read for anyone interested in political writing, or persuasive speaking in general.
Rob Harris
Lincoln is always worth a read.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Douglas Lawson Wilson, born 1935
More about Douglas L. Wilson...
Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln Jefferson's Books (Monticello Monograph Series) Lincoln before Washington: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE ILLINOIS YEARS Herndon's Lincoln

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