Thursday, May 17, 2012

What We've Done to Honest Abe: Lincoln, Inc.

Because of Lincoln’s assassination, he has been heralded as a hero and anyone who disagrees is viewed as anti-American. Lincoln is the American Dream personified and because of that, he is idealized in all mediums from TV, movies, biographies, novels, t-shirts, and bobble heads to just name a few. This idolization is similar to that of Che Guevara. however, it’s to an even greater extent with Lincoln because he died almost 150 years ago and yet teachers still teach their students to act like him.
Lincoln on an Episode of "American Dad"

The author also hypothesizes that maybe how we view Lincoln is actually how we want to be viewed. He was born in the rags of lower class Kentucky and made it to the riches of being president. He brought people together during trying times, played peacemaker, and reunited a torn country. Clearly, we have turned him into a character with Mary Todd Lincoln acting as the antagonist. As the times change, historians and scholars have “dug up” new information on Lincoln such as his possible issues with depression and closeted homosexuality. The author explains that perhaps we’re fascinated with these new aspects about Lincoln’s character because we’re dealing with these issues today. However, we are doing an injustice to Lincoln by using him as the poster child for America and the American Dream. Due to this, we have never had a truthful portrait of the 16th president and maybe we never will.
Lincoln alongside JFK, Cleopatra and Gandhi in "Clone High"

The author’s views and opinions are fascinating and possibly groundbreaking. She has certainly made me a believer in her thesis. Her evidence is overwhelming and at times the reader wants to hit his/her head for not seeing something so obvious on their own. For the first half of the book, I was completely hooked. However, it eventually became a bit redundant and I felt as if I was progressively being hit over the head. Each chapter focuses on a different way that we “sell” Lincoln which is interesting and insightful but also overwhelming. For sociologists, anthropologists, and history buffs, this book is for you! For Lincoln-lovers, it is essential reading even if it might piss you off.

No comments:

Post a Comment