Friday, 25 March 2011

New revisionist biography of President Lincoln

"I have no interest to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races..." - Abraham Lincoln, 1858

American novelist, Elena Maria Vidal, reviews and critiques a controversial and revisionist take on the presidency and politics of Abraham Lincoln. 

"Every nation has its myths; we Americans certainly have our share. I think that national myths fulfill the purpose of making people feel better about ugly episodes in history, especially their own history. In dealing with the horrors of the French Revolution, for instance, it is easier for us to believe that the entire fiasco was triggered by Marie-Antoinette saying, "Let them eat cake." Then we can sympathize with her death (and those of thousands of others) but otherwise console ourselves with the knowledge that she brought it all on herself. The fact that Marie-Antoinette never uttered such words is an uncomfortable truth, too uncomfortable for many to process because it conflicts with a certain world view.
Similarly, African slavery being a shameful part of American history, we hearten ourselves with the image of Abraham Lincoln, a man of the people, the Great Emancipator, doing whatever he had to do in order to free the slaves, even to the fighting of a long and terrible war, which was worth all the blood, because it freed the slaves. Such is the tale which every American child is taught in school; it is a glorious and inspiring one except for the fact that it is not true..."
I'm sure The Real Lincoln will provoke many discussions amongst both academics and enthusiasts of American history and you can read Elena Maria's thoughts here

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