Sunday, August 27

A history-book binge

My finds on my last three visits to the Powerbooks sale: Lincoln and Whitman by Daniel Mark Epstein; Mrs Lincoln and Mrs Keckly by Jennifer Fleischer, and The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop.

I’ve always had a general interest in American politics, particularly in what actually goes on in the White House, but only in a more contemporary setting. After reading The Devil in the White City (Erik Larson) and The Dante Club (Matthew Pearl), though, I'm finding early American life and politics a bit more interesting.

So no, I’d no particular interest in Lincoln before this, and knew little about him too other than his role in abolishing slavery, which was why the first book I picked up was about Mary Lincoln’s friendship with Elizabeth Keckly, her dressmaker and a mulatto former slave. (I haven’t started reading this, I’m saving it for term break.)

Browsing in Powerbooks again with a friend a week or so later, I spotted Epstein’s book on Lincoln and Whitman, about how Whitman’s poetry influenced Lincoln’s writing and oratorical style, and Whitman’s devotion to the president: “Lincoln is particularly my man—particularly belongs to me; yes, and by the same token, I am Lincoln’s man: I guess I particularly belong to him; we are afloat on the same stream—we are rooted in the same ground.” (This one I couldn’t resist, so I started reading it even tho it was the middle of finals week, heheh.)

And then last night I was fuming after a particularly tricky exam so I did what I always do to unwind and let off steam: lose myself among the shelves (particularly effective when there’s a sale on!) What I found was Jim Bishop’s account of Lincoln’s last 24 hours on this earth, which was originally published in 1955. So that’s three books on Lincoln in as many weeks. Guess you could say I’ve turned into an Honest Abe fan :)


PS: Alright, there’s more. To cap my little history-book binge, I also picked up an interesting volume written by former SC Justice Abraham Sarmiento, who apparently shares my fascination (at times obsession) with the trial and execution of Gat Andres Bonifacio. His book The Trial of Andres Bonifacio: The Appeal is about a fictional Supreme Court decision on an appeal (also fictional) of the court martial’s ruling finding Bonifacio guilty of “conspiring to overthrow the government and assassinate President Aguinaldo,” and which recommended his execution. It’s complete with ‘separate opinions’ written by O.D. Corpuz and Haydee Yorac. Thank you Justice Sarmiento and the UP Press for publishing this!

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