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Synopsis

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and in conjunction with the Library of Congress 2009 Bicentennial Exhibition, In Lincoln’s Hand offers an unprecedented look at perhaps our greatest president through vivid images of his handwritten letters, speeches, and even childhood notebooks—many never before made available to the public.

Edited by leading Lincoln scholars Joshua Wolf Shenk and Harold Holzer, this companion volume to the Library of Congress exhibition offers a fresh and intimate perspective on a man whose thoughts and words continue to affect history. To underscore the resonance of Lincoln’s writings on contemporary culture, each manuscript is accompanied by a reflection on Lincoln by a prominent American from the arts, politics, literature, or entertainment, including Toni Morrison, Sam Waterston, Robert Pinsky, Gore Vidal, and presidents Carter, George H.W., and George W. Bush.

While Lincoln’s words are quite well known, the original manuscripts boast a unique power and beauty and provide rare insight into the creative process. In this collection we can see the ebb and flow of Lincoln’s thoughts, emotions, hopes, and doubts. We can see where he paused to dip his pen in the ink or to capture an idea. We can see where he added a word or phrase, and where he crossed out others, searching for the most precise, and concise, expression. In these marks on the page, Lincoln’s character is available to us with a profound immediacy. From such icons as the Gettysburg Address and the inaugural speeches to seldom-seen but superb rarities, here is the world as Lincoln saw and shaped it in words and images that resound to this very day.

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