August 20, 2013

Voice of thunder

What is it about Abraham Lincoln that makes him the subject of such endless fascination? I would have trouble counting the number of books I've read about this or that aspect of Lincoln's life. If he was like most people, at some point I'd have my fill.

I love Bob Dylan, for example, but I think my life total for books about him is three. I've probably done that many Lincoln books in the last year, including one I just finished, Doris Kearns Goodwin's justly famous Team of Rivals. It wouldn't surprise me if I hit another Lincoln book or two before the year is out.

There is something epic and, to use an overused word, awesome, about this man and the time he lived through.

One thing that strikes me now is that Lincoln is how his life illustrates the power of stories. One thing that many people loved about him--and that drove some people crazy--was his constant use of stories. Some of these shed light on a situation. Some were just silly. Some perfectly summed up a complex situation.

I remember reading yet another book about Lincoln several years ago by James M. McPherson that suggested one reason the North won the war was that Lincoln was better at metaphors than his counterpart Jefferson Davis.

I think he has a point, although in fairness I must say, as Confederate General George Pickett once did about why his famous charge failed, that the Union Army had something to do with it.

I may return to that theme of the power of story in the next few posts, which may be irregular as I'll be on the road.

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT. Here's the Washington Post on the impact of the sequester on the Head Start program, its children and their parents.

INEQUALITY MATTERS. From CNN, here's a suggested list of things to read about it.



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