Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural
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Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  271 ratings  ·  28 reviews
After four years of unspeakable horror and sacrifice on both sides, the Civil War was about to end. On March 4, 1865, at his Second Inaugural, President Lincoln did not offer the North the victory speech it yearned for, nor did he blame the South solely for the sin of slavery. Calling the whole nation to account, Lincoln offered a moral framework for peace and reconciliati...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 2nd 2002 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2002)
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Gary Hoggatt
An entire book about a 703 word speech? Yes, and it's an excellent one. In Ronald C. White, Jr.'s 2002 effort Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, White delves into the background of the speech, the context of the times, the resonance of its themes, and the origins of Abraham Lincoln's ideas. I already appreciated Lincoln's magnificent speech, and that appreciation has grown immensely with reading White's illuminating volume.

White begins with setting the stage of Inauguration Day, Ma...more
Elaine
Fabulous! Anyone who is interested in writing per se will find his analysis of Lincoln's rhetoric both on target and fascinating. Indeed, if I were teaching a writing course, I would use this as a text to illustrate how to write effectively, how to grab an audience, and how to write memorable prose. Beyond that, White's analyses of how Lincoln's thinking changed during his Presidency, which are based upon Lincoln's own notes, are a revelation, as is White's discussion of Lincoln's religious view...more
Kipi
The depth of meaning in the deceptively simple words of Lincoln's second inaugural address is probably missed by most modern readers. It was missed by many of those who listened to him at the inauguration and by many critics of the day. Professor White goes through the speech paragraph by paragraph and line by line and exposes the beauty of Lincoln's carefully constructed prose. His listeners expected to hear words of personal vindication and wanted to hear how southern rebels would be punished....more
Martin
I have an obsession with Lincoln that seems to be growing. I also am continuing efforts to refine my writing and oratory skills. To address all three at once, I came to the right place! Alliteration? Check. Balanced ideas? Check. Conciliatory appeals? Check. Winning friends and influencing people via proper word selection? Check. Not only does White offer a no-nonsense analysis of the text, but also gives the speech its proper context by sharing facts of the crowd reaction on scene and media rea...more
Erik
Jan 10, 2011 Erik marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From Publisher, on B&N:

After four years of unspeakable horror and sacrifice on both sides, the Civil War was about to end. On March 4, 1865, at his Second Inaugural, President Lincoln did not offer the North the victory speech it yearned for, nor did he blame the South solely for the sin of slavery. Calling the whole nation to account, Lincoln offered a moral framework for peace and reconciliation. The speech was greeted with indifference, misunderstanding, and hostility by many in the Union...more
bup
It's easy to say that this is a whole book about one short (six minutes, 703 words) speech, but wow! The speech deserves it!

White clearly shows how influential the speech is, how well it embodies Lincoln, and how every last word matters. He takes it sentence by sentence, and expounds on all contained there. And he's not just making stuff up - White's explication is very fairly inferred from what Lincoln said.

And I agree with White's conclusion - that today politics lacks the integrity Lincoln ha...more
Mike
An immensely satisfying and informative look at Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural, and all the attendant forces and influences that shaped and informed Lincoln's writing of it. This book is a worthy companion to Garry Wills's "Lincoln at Gettysburg", and I have no higher praise to laud on it than that. Reading about the mind and heart of Abraham Lincoln has been one of the great and fulfilling joys of my adult life.
Rick
In short, this is awesome history! Totally gripping--I zipped through it once I started it. Masterfully researched and woven together and establishes why this, and not the Gettysburg Address, is his best, making it one of the best speeches ever. I had to read this to confirm his premise and it supports it in depth without being wordy. Portrays Lincoln like I've never seen him--much more spiritual and deeper in his faith and convictions than I've picked up in other bios and similar. After reading...more
Maxwell
This book gives a deep historical and rhetorical analysis that surrounds Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. The book follows the text of the speech including historical background of the Civil War as well as textual analysis and rhetorical criticism.

I had to read this for a Public Speaking class, so normally it is not a book I would pick up on my own accord. However, I did thoroughly enjoy this book. It gives amazing insight into how the speech was given, the mood of the crowd and natio...more
Erica
Prior to reading this book, I only had a limited knowledge of this speech, which White rightfully argues is one of Lincoln's finest works. White does a meticulous job breaking the speech down, unpacking the significance in everything that Lincoln said in his inaugural. The explication of religious significance was less interesting to me as a matter of personal preference, but thorough and important to understanding Lincoln's message. The book reads quickly and easily and affords one the opportun...more
Ivan
Before reading this book, I didn’t know much about Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. If you didn’t know, it was delivered at the closing of the Civil War, forty-two days before his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. I can now not only appreciate the speech, but also see the brilliant simplicity of these words that have long captivated the American imagination. Frederick Douglas, the famed African American abolitionist and orator, wrote the day of the speech: “The address sounded more like a sermon th...more
Brent Jones
The book draws a lot of conclusions about why Lincoln said what he said in this speech. It contrasts his apparent convictions before the war to the ones he had near the close of it. It suggests that Lincoln summed up his position, for a political purpose, and picked his words very carefully. Reconciliation may have been his only purpose but maybe he felt safe saying what he really believed knowing that it would be seen as reconciliation.

A Presidential speech drawing heavily on scripture and tal...more
Mike
The book offers context and analysis. The book is not a standalone piece. I am always skeptical about such analysis as I think writers tend to place words and thoughts into the mouths and heads of the original speaker/writer. However, the analysis does provide "food for thought", the context is very helpful and the orignal text is amazing. President Lincoln was truly a genius and an extraordinary courageous leader. His assassination cost us dearly. A worthwhile read.
Adelina
This was a great book. I thought the author did very well delving into the meanings and getting deeper into Lincoln's second inaugural speech. There were a few times where he went went into detail that didn't seem necessary, but I feel like I understand Lincoln so much more just from this one speech.
Ryan
Excellent book! I really enjoyed reading it after I finished White's 'A. Lincoln' - it was a great companion, and not repetative at all. White gives us a great glimpse into what made Lincoln Lincoln, and the journey he traveled to get there. What a phenominal speech, and truly wonderful book!
Janine
i did not read this from cover to cover. this is not because it did not interest me; i liked learning more about lincoln's thinking and approach to his speeches. i simply had to return it to the library. i hope to take it out again and finish the last couple of chapters.
Chad
So far this is a good book. However, I find it hard to believe that anyone truly understood what Lincoln exactly meant by the words he used in any of his speeches. None the less it is good to read insight on what an eloquent speaker he was.
Michael
My son Nathaniel was supposed to read this book so I downloded it to my kindle. I really enjoyed it. Great breakdown of Lincoln's speech and what he was trying to communicate. Lincoln was a master communicator and thinker.
Joe
White suggests how Lincoln's train of thought progresses, and matures throughout his life, and the war, and how that progression culminate into his final address. I highly enjoyed it.
Dick
Excellent research on Lincoln's 2nd inaugural address in 1865. In my personal view his 2nd address surpasses the Gettysburg Address, which is saying a lot.
Joe
how less words and more meaning can last for a lifetime. should be required reading for students(and politicians). volume of words doest mean quality.
Abigail
This is a fascinating look at Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address - it puts it into perspective in many ways, and shows how it still applies today.
Kurt
Good, well written and interesting. Raised my insight into President Lincoln to a new level.
Scott
If only current politicians could write then own speeches so well.
Greg
One of the most inspiring books that I've ever read!
Larry
awesome ... for every history buff
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