Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Review: Did Lincoln Own Slaves?

Did Lincoln Own Slaves?:
And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln
by Gerald J. Prokopowicz

Did you ever have a question about Abraham Lincoln but didn’t want to pull several books of a library shelf to find the answer? Have you toured the White House, the Lincoln Home, or any of the other various Lincoln sites and had a question that you thought others might think you stupid or uneducated for asking? Then Gerald J. Prokopowicz’s book “Did Lincoln Own Slaves?: And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln” is just the book for you.

This, as acknowledged by Mr. Prokopowicz in his introduction, is not a book directed towards Lincoln Scholars or history professors. This is a book intended to be read by the general American public. If you have read several books on Abraham Lincoln there is little, if anything, new to be discovered between its covers that you probably haven’t read elsewhere.

This slim tome is an encyclopedia of questions posed about Abraham Lincoln’s life and times, the man, the myths and the legends. Though there are probably several, I cannot think of a single question about Abraham Lincoln that is not answered in this book.

Written in a question and answer format, the book is broken into chapters covering specific segments of his Lincoln’s life: The Boy Lincoln, Rail-Splitter, Springfield, Politician, Speaker, President, Commander In Chief, Gettysburg, Emancipation, Lincoln The Man, Martyr and lastly, Legacy.

Mr. Prokopowicz does not speak down to his readers. He writes in an easily read, conversational style with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in. His answers are often short and concise, but more complicated questions, such as Lincoln’s view of race, or emancipation, both deserve and receive longer answers. His book is aimed toward those who are curious about Abraham Lincoln, and though the author answers each question he also includes a section titled “For Further Reading” at the end of each chapter for those who would like to know more.

As Lincoln scholar, Mr. Prokopowicz has devoted much of his life to the study of the life and times of our 16th president. For nine years he served as the Lincoln Scholar at the Lincoln Museum at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and was the editor of its quarterly journal, “Lincoln Lore.” He is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Advisory Committee, and the host of Civil War Talk Radio. He is currently the chair of the history department at East Carolina University.

ISBN 978-0-375-42541-7, Pantheon, © 2008, Hardcover, 352 pages, Illustrations, Photographs, Footnotes & Endnotes, Bibliography & Index. $24.95

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