Cover image for Lincoln's body : a cultural history
Title:
Lincoln's body : a cultural history
Author:
Fox, Richard Wightman, 1945-
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2015]
Physical Description:
xvi, 416 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Summary:
Lincoln's Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright "ugly" of aspect came to mean so much to us.The very roughness of Lincoln's appearance made him seem all the more common, one of us--as did his sense of humor about his own awkward physical nature.
Language:
English
Contents:
Part I. The public body (1840-1865) -- Lincoln's body politic -- Last words, last breath -- The martyr and his relics -- African Americans and their emancipator -- Rolling funeral, living corpse -- Part II. The enshrined body (1865-1909) -- The first Lincoln memorials -- Monuments for the ages -- Black emancipation, White reunion -- Celebrating the Centenary of 1909 -- Part III. The national body (1909-2015) -- Solidifying the Lincoln cult: two memorials -- The hero on screen, from Griffith to Gage -- Standing in Lincoln's shadow -- Reviving the emancipator -- Lincoln sightings at the bicentenary: Obama, Disney, Spielberg.
ISBN:
9780393065305
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

In a stunning feat of scholarship, insight, and engaging prose, Lincoln's Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright "ugly" of aspect came to mean so much to us.

The very roughness of Lincoln's appearance made him seem all the more common, one of us--as did his sense of humor about his own awkward physical nature. Nineteenth-century African Americans felt deep affection for their "liberator" as a "homely" man who did not hold himself apart. During Reconstruction, Southerners felt a nostalgia for the humility of Lincoln, whom they envisioned as a "conciliator." Later, teachers glorified Lincoln as a symbol of nationhood that would appeal to poor immigrants. Monument makers focused not only on the man's gigantic body but also on his nationalist efforts to save the Union, downplaying his emancipation of the slaves.

Among both black and white liberals in the 1960s and 1970s, Lincoln was derided or fell out of fashion. More recently, Lincoln has once again been embodied (as both idealist and pragmatist, unafraid of conflict and transcending it) by outstanding historians, by self-identified Lincolnian president Barack Obama, and by actor Daniel Day-Lewis--all keeping Lincoln alive in a body of memory that speaks volumes about our nation.


Author Notes

Richard Wightman Fox is a professor of history at the University of Southern California and the author of Jesus in America and Trials of Intimacy, among other books. He lives in Venice, California.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Larkin delivers this unusual, finely crafted study of the 16th president of the United States with a clear, well-modulated voice that will engage listeners. The book argues that the great liberator's awkwardly lanky body, homely countenance, and affable demeanor played a prominent role in making him a man of the people. With keen insight and a smooth, uncomplicated writing style, Fox explores Lincoln's legacy and how his visage and ideas have been remembered, morphed, interpreted, and reinterpreted over the generations since his assassination. Larkin's even, never-rushed narration easily translates this fascinating historical study into the audio format. Though the material is complex and packed with information, Larkin's narration and the author's writing make for a rewarding, pleasurable listening experience. Lincoln buffs or not, readers will find this audiobook is a compelling and illuminating look at one of the most influential figures in American history. A Norton hardcover. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

This in-depth examination of how Abraham Lincoln's sheer physical presence affected his political life and how his appearance relates to the way he is remembered presents an original look at his legacy. Fox (history, Univ. of Southern California; Jesus in America) scrutinizes ways in which images and impressions of our 16th president have been used during and after his life. The author studies the use of Lincoln's image in advertising, political campaigning, and entertainment from his life until the present day, examining a wide range of works including statues, newspaper advertisements, speeches, Disneyland's Hall of Presidents, movies, and video games. He uses this information to describe ways in which public opinion about the president has changed throughout the years and how the fascination with Lincoln has been used to promote a variety of causes. Pete Larkin's conversational narration style enhances the experience. VERDICT Recommended for Civil War buffs and students of Lincoln lore.-Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.