Nick's Reviews > Lincoln

Lincoln by Gore Vidal
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Mar 22, 09

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Read in March, 2009


A painstakingly researched novel that had everything you can ask for in a historical fiction. Gore Vidal uses journals, newspaper clippings, government records and diaries and letters to construct a fully formed narrative storyline that is informative and gripping.

The book focuses mostly on the political environment in Washington from Lincolns election through to the end of the civil war, particularly the events surrounding Lincolns "Team of Rivals" cabinet. Main characters include Sec. of State William Seward (former governor of NY, future purchaser of Alaska) and Sec. of Treasury Salmon P. Chase (the man on the face of the first US dollar bill). Presidential Secretary John Hay is also prominently featured, most likely because his journals were a key element of Vidals research.

Lincoln is a window into a presidency in crisis, and a reminder that even the greatest political leaders are forced to wrestle with their own ignorance, uncertainty and doubt. The dialogue and plot made for an easy read and every paragraph contains a nugget of Civil War era America. My only criticism is that I would have loved more focus on the military politics (the revolving door of US generals is fascinating) and less on Washington society life (Ms. Lincoln is a difficult character to stomach.)
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message 1: by Adina (new)

Adina i like lincoln, my fave after jefferson; i picture him w/ his head in his hands just stressing :) think i've seen this at my mom's, will give it a shot.


Nick Vidal actually portrays him as a very calm and collected president, although the shear volume of soldiers killed in the war really takes its toll. You should definitely read it, its all dialog and just as easy to get through as a standard fiction novel. It also has tons of interesting factoids you would enjoy.




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