Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Spotlight: With Malice Toward None--Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address


Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural address has been revered as one of the greatest speeches given by an American for nearly 150 years. Given during the waning days of the Civil War, Lincoln laid out the causes and effects of the war in beautiful, soaring terms unlike anything that is produced by today's politicians. The beauty of the speech was immediately recognized, Frederick Douglass declared that the speech "was a sacred effort." While the speech failed as an inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln failed to provide any details on the plans his administration had for the Reconstruction that would bring the southern states back into the Union and the place the four million freed slaves now had in the Union. Lincoln, in my opinion can be forgiven this oversight, and likely if the speech had rambled on and on detailing dry policy it would have quickly been forgotten like the majority of presidential inaugural addresses. 

Jack E. Levin's beautiful book, With Malice Toward None: Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, perfectly illustrates why Lincoln's address has survived the test of time. The address is faithfully reproduced along with images and drawings from the Civil War era that where carefully chosen by Levin. The images selected by Levin, a professional artist, perfectly highlights Lincoln's words. In an era when newspapers where just starting to include images, Lincoln used his words to paint the images he wanted to convey, a fact that is illustrated in Levin's book. The book presents Lincoln's address with the illustrations and then again at the end in its original format with Lincoln's spelling and paragraph break.

With Malice Toward None is a wonderful volume that can be enjoyed by all ages. A wonderful introduction to Lincoln for young readers, though some may struggle with fully understanding what Lincoln was trying to understand making this the perfect book for parents and children to read together and discuss what they take from Lincoln's words as Lincoln wrote his address to be read out loud. Levin's beautiful book will be cherished in family library's for years to come. 

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