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Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  572 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Before he grew up and became one of Washington’s most respected reporters and editors, Andrew Ferguson was, of all things, a Lincoln buff — with the photos hung on his bedroom wall to prove it. Decades later, Ferguson’s latent buffdom is reignited. In Land of Lincoln , he embarks on a curiosity-fueled coast-to-coast journey through contemporary Lincoln Nation, encounterin ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 10th 2007 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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May 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who's a Lincoln lover, or hater
Shelves: non-fiction
So, since moving to the Land of Lincoln and getting engaged in front of his historical home in Springfield, I've kinda developed a curiousity (ie. obsession) about the "Great Emancipator." So, when I saw this book in our school's book fair, I thought I'd pick it up.

I liked this book, because instead of focusing on who Lincoln was, it focuses on the many different ways that Americans see Lincoln or portray him. As Ferguson (who, if the back cover photo is accurate, looks eeriely like the late Kur
Nathan Albright
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge2017
As someone who reads a great deal of books about Abraham Lincoln, it is pretty clear that I would likely fall into the category of being a buff, as this author would like to say [1].  Instead of writing a book about Lincoln though, the author is seeking someone more nebulous, and that is the contested place that Lincoln holds in American society and how he is viewed and marketed.  I have to say that I greatly appreciated the author's approach, as he was highly critical of many of the tendencies ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rather a fun book.
Interesting background information on many Lincoln sites and controversies over those sites.
Lots of reminiscing in the final chapters of the book.
Throughout, the airport is trying to make sense of the Lincoln phenomena and his own feeling towards that, which of course is the whole stated point of the book.
He does that will.
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I consider myself a Lincoln Buff that's still learning. I've lived in Illinois all my life and I've been down to Springfield several times in my lifetime. So when I was looking for a book that would solve my yearning for a book about Abraham Lincoln, I chose this one. Andrew Ferguson wrote a funny book about Lincoln in today's world and where he stands. But Lincoln means so many things to so many different people it's impossible to pin him down. Reading this book, I found out things that I didn' ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Huh. I don't know if I have ever read a book that annoyed me so much, but then shocked me with a great chapter.

The book was a 2. But Chapter Seven was a 5.

This is presented as a funny, rollicking look at the way Lincoln has become everything to everybody. It's not a terrible book. It's written technically well. It's got a lot of interesting anecdotes and information.

But what comes across loud and clear is a deep, disturbing cynicism that reads like a disgusted reality TV producer dismissing ever
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
As a former U.S. history teacher I loved reading Ferguson's wry and insightful comments about the changing perspectives of presenting history, as educators and historians, and the way public perception of history has changed as well. I have led students on hands-on "we the people" museum field trips that bored both them and me silly. And I've stood with students on the battlefield at Gettysburg and watched them as they were overtaken with awe by "standing right here where it really happened". I' ...more
Since today is Lincoln's birthday, I thought I'd mention this delightful book. Rather than a scholarly work or biography, the author looks for Lincoln in America today and tries to make sense of what Lincoln means to us as a society. Ferguson grew up in Illinois and Lincoln was a big interest of his. One of the best parts of the book is when he tries to recreate with his teenage kids the wonderful experience he had with his Dad exploring The Lincoln Trail. (The Lincoln Trail stretches from Linco ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I don't usually mind snarkiness, but this author goes over the top and at times obscures some good information about how we have celebrated and do celebrate Abraham Linclon in our country. He's a big deal and some reverence is advisable--not to say that the author doesn't work that in on occasion--but it's hard to tell if he really appreciates Lincoln or more appreciates his childhood memories of appreciating Lincoln.
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
Journalist Andrew Ferguson looks at his childhood idol Abraham Lincoln not from a historical point of view. Rather Ferguson writes in his Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America about the consumer market of nostalgia eclipsed from the greatest President since George Washington. Abraham Lincoln "sells" whether it's packaged in corporate workshop seminars hosted in Gettysburg, PA, or underwritten by the oil industry to promote trips and tourism to places Lincoln lived. Ferguson recounts his o ...more
Courtney Homer
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Lincoln, and this was a fascinating perspective on not only the man, but how we view the man in America. Ferguson’s writing is accessible, witty, engaging, and engrossing. His book is a little about him and a little about Lincoln, but it’s largely about Lincoln in America – how we honor him, criticize him, and use him in our national story. Ferguson gives consideration to both Lincoln skeptics and worshippers, ultimately deciding that Lincoln the icon has a place in America as the preserv ...more
Jason X
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I listened to this pre-Goodreads. I recall liking it okay, but I also recall liking it better when it was called Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War.

I was reminded of this book after I completed Lincoln in the Bardo. Maybe I was inhabited by a spirit?
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Didn’t find it very engaging as written but i did learn a number of things about lincolnphiles and the lincoln tourism industry that I didn’t know.
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it
The author's approach here is simple and effective: take an enormous historical figure and explore the ways his life and work have been distorted by various groups - whether revisionist historians, artifact collectors, members of the petroleum industry, or hosts of business "workshop" retreats. The exploration makes for interesting reading, aided in no small part by quacks and fanatics (lovers and haters alike).

But what is probably the book's strongest suit is Ferguson's refusal to dissolve com
Andrew Breslin
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
A lot of people out there have an unhealthy obsession with our 16th president. To the point of psychosis. They’re just Abemaniacal. And yes, granted: Reading this book, I got a little caught up in all the excitement, sure.


But, incidentally, if you decide to engage in creative pogonotrophy in an effort to evoke the Great Emancipator, just remember that at least in the Philadelphia region, people are just going to think you are Amish. It was more than a little disappointing. Did anyone ask me to r
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read this book in conjunction with “Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War” by David Horwitz and knew they were not point, counter point but thought they would run loosely along similar themes. Of Course Lincoln, with about 14,000 books written about him and as ubiquitous as his images are, is never too far from our thoughts especially here, in “The Land of Lincoln.” I found myself chuckling at times over Ferguson’s nuanced, wry and sometimes quirky writing style but ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: borrowed, non-fiction
Bought this from a bargain rack at B&N during a burst of retail therapy a week or two ago. Picked it up because it was cheap, was about Lincoln and middle America, and I figured my dad might enjoy it.

For whatever reason I read it today. I wasn't thrilled with it and didn't identify with much in it, but I hope my dad will enjoy it.

There is quite a bit of commentary on "new" history, and the new interpretations of Lincoln, which I found interesting. Education and museums are certainly designed di
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm not about to become a Abeophiliac. But I figured, after reading the scholarly (yet excellent) tome "Team of Rivals," I could balance it out with a lighter, more popular look at Lincoln.

Ferguson travels from statue to statue, landmark to log cabin in search of the "real" Lincoln. Of course, it isn't going to be easy, what with everyone assigning him what they want to see ever since his death. One thing's for sure: Abe has real staying power. Even 150+ years later, he inspires passion in peop
Aug 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Two events recently converged to light my "Lincoln Fire" again. A couple of years ago, I had a chance to visit the new Lincoln Museum in Springfield (marvelous is a Disney-like way)with my daughter. Second, my wife inherited some books from an uncle who passed - including some rare Lincoln books - (Herndon's Life of Lincoln). Thus, when I saw the author interviewed on C-Spans 'Booknotes' (now in the form of "Q&A"), I had to get this book.

The book isn't so much about Lincoln himself as about how
Jacob Lines
May 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-history
This is a book about how Americans celebrate Lincoln. Ferguson is smart and witty, but I was really ready for this book to end. I don’t know if I was turned off by the things he was describing – attempts to attract tourists and make money and sometimes crass commercialism behind the Lincoln industry – or his relentlessly uncharitable cynicism in describing it. Very few people or ideas get a positive mention in this book. Nearly everyone and everything is denigrated or ridiculed. I am not sure ho ...more
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
As an "Abe buff" myself, formed in much the same way as the author by a childhood trip to Springfield, IL, and environs, I really enjoyed this book. Much of it was laugh-out-loud funny: my favorite example of this author's humor was his description of a "motivational workshop" centered around Lincoln as a business guru. He captured perfectly the hooey that goes on at these things, which many of us in corporate and non-profit America have endured in the name of workplace bonding or increasing pro ...more
Karl Schaeffer
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ferguson is an unabashed Lincoln buff, and looks at Lincoln by observing the Lincoln legacy; the cult of Lincoln. He starts the book by documenting the hue & cry raised in Richmond when the National Park Service accepted the donation of a statue of Lincoln to be erected at the Tredegar Armory, now a national park. It appears that the Civil War is not yet over in some areas. I have two words for those people, "You Lost." Ferguson takes us to the new Museum in Springfield, to a Lincoln "presenters ...more
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Civil War/Lincoln buffs
For Lincoln/Civil War buffs, this is a fun, frolicking examination of the nation's ongoing obsession with its 16th president. Ferguson has presented his journey to visit the country's numerous Lincoln sites and artifact collections as a personal travelogue, which takes him from Gettysburg to Springfield and all points in between. He deftly weaves in the highlights of Lincoln's life and presidency without beating casual readers over the head with it, and he offers mild commentary about our curren ...more
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
New self! "Listened-to."
I listened to this on CD while exercising. It made for a whole lot of fun. This book is not about Abe Lincoln, "the icon," it's about American experiences with Abe. Abe the spiritualist, the homosexual, the romantic husband, the father, the animal lover, the rat-scoundrel killer of democracy, the business man, the pacifist, the whimp, the vacation destination etc... You name he has done it! Well, according to the different Americans this author talked to.
It was insightfu
Aug 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this book up at a coffee shop while on vacation. I only intended to read the first chapter, but was captivated enough to buy it. I found it interesting, but didn't think it was a great book. However, I read most of it in one day. So I guess it is a pretty good read.
This book is more about our response to Abraham Lincoln than it is about the man himself. Some hate him with a passion, like the people in Richmond, Virginia that hired a plane to fly over the ceremony commemorating the plac
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I'm not a proper Lincoln buff, but enough of a Lincoln fan to really enjoy this book about the wacky ways Lincolnmania plays out in America. Andrew Ferguson amusingly tours the country, hitting all the essential Lincoln spots, exploring the questin of "what Lincoln means and who he was" (answer: no one really knows even though everyone thinks they do). Ultimately, the examination of how Lincoln is remembered is really an examination of the evolution of the American treatment and celebration o ...more
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was given to me by a friend who found it at a garage sale. He knows I am a huge Lincoln fan and devour anything about him. And since I spent the first decade of my life in Illinois, I could relate to many early Lincoln experiences. This book is a clever mixture of travelogue, history and essay. His descriptions of many of the Lincoln historical sites and museums have strengthened my desire to see some of them again and some for the first time. I thought he handled the "political correc ...more
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is thoroughly entertaining and educating as well. Ferguson approaches Lincoln from different angles (travel, historiography, current affairs), and is humorous or serious when the situation demands it. Both critical and an avid fan of Lincoln, Ferguson seems to have tried to find the best of both worlds and put it into this book.

It has made me reconsider the way I think of Lincoln. No longer is he a mere icon, an abstraction that springs from theory, but he is Man as well as Icon: some
Jan 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lincolnalia
It's no accident that Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals) wrote the first blurb on this book's cover. Or that Christopher Buckley (Thank You for Smoking) wrote another--and points out that Land of Lincoln shortens to LOL. Ferguson goes in search of those in search and in use of Lincoln: obscure object collectors, Lincoln as business-savvy class teachers, unrepentent Southerners who think he shouldn't have a statue in Richmond, and yes, even people who designed the Disney-like new museum in Spr ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Abraham Lincoln has been the subject, by one count, of nearly 14,000 books. Chances are that none is funnier than Andrew Ferguson's Land of Lincoln. Ferguson is at his best when writing the sort of good-natured, insightful observation that drives Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic, or any of Bill Bryson's books. At times, the humor devolves into cynicism and the argument loses focus; those passages work less well. In his attempt at separating the trut

Oct 02, 2009 rated it liked it
In anticipation of my visit to Springfield next week.

Still not sure if I should have waited until after my visit to Springfield to read this, but it's too late now.
It's not on the level of Confederates in the Attic or Assassination Vacation (he can't bring the funny irony in the way that Horwitz and Vowell do), but it's a fascinating look at the ways in which people have used Lincoln to suit their purposes. His review of the new museum made me wish he was a bit more of a museum person, but I did
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Andrew Ferguson is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and has written and editor for many publications, including Washingtonian magazine, Time magazine, Fortune, TV Guide, Forbes FYI, National Review, Bloomberg News, Commentary, the New Yorker, New York magazine, the New Republic, the American Spectator, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, and many other publica ...more

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