Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America

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Press: Tantor Audio; Unabridged edition (June 24, 2007)
ISBN:9781400134328
Author Name:Ferguson, Andrew/ Lawlor, Patrick (NRT)
Language:English

Content

Before he grew up and became one of Washington's most respected reporters and editors, Andrew Ferguson was, of all things, a Lincoln buff. 
Like so many sons of Illinois before him, he hung photos of Abe on his bedroom wall, memorized the Gettysburg Address, and read himself to sleep at night with the Second Inaugural or the "Letter to Mrs.
Bixby." Ferguson eventually outgrew his obsession.
But decades later, his latent buffdom was reignited by a curious headline in a local newspaper: Lincoln Statue Stirs Outrage in Richmond.
"Lincoln?" thought Ferguson.
"Outrage? I felt the first stirrings of the fatal question, the question that, once raised, never lets go: Huh?" In Land of Lincoln, Ferguson embarks on a curiosity-fueled coast-to-coast journey through contemporary Lincoln Nation, encountering everything from hatred to adoration to opportunism and all manner of reaction in between.
He attends a national conference of Lincoln impersonators in Indiana; seeks out the premier collectors of Lincoln memorabilia from California to Rhode Island; attends a Dale Carnegie-inspired leadership conference based on Lincoln's "management style"; drags his family across the three-state-long and now defunct Lincoln Heritage Trail; and even manages to hold one of five original copies of the Gettysburg Address.
Along the way he weaves in enough history to hook readers of presidential biographies and popular histories while providing the engaging voice and style of the best narrative journalism.
Ultimately, Land of Lincoln is an entertaining, unexpected, and big-hearted celebration of Lincoln and his enduring influence on the country he helped create.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Abraham Lincoln has been the subject, by one count, of nearly 14,000 books. 
Chances are that none is funnier than Andrew Ferguson's Land of Lincoln.
Ferguson is at his best when writing the sort of good-natured, insightful observation that drives Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic, or any of Bill Bryson's books.
At times, the humor devolves into cynicism and the argument loses focus; those passages work less well.
In his attempt at separating the truth of Lincoln's legacy from the fiction (or the history from the kitsch), though, Ferguson discovers a great deal about how-and how well-we honor our heroes.Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

With his curiosity piqued by a 2003 protest against the installation of an Abraham Lincoln statue in Richmond, Virginia, journalist Ferguson decided to undertake a tour of vernacular attitudes toward the historical Lincoln. 
His travels and interviews with Lincoln buffs and Lincoln haters tend toward the insouciant but are grounded by sharp insights into how Lincoln is regarded by the populace rather than by scholars.
Starting from his childhood career as a buff in the early 1960s, nurtured by his visits to Illinois' Lincoln sites, Ferguson revisits them to see what has changed from his heroic Lincoln of memory.
A lot, the museum curators tell Ferguson, since the public needs to know about Lincoln's imperfections.
Apparently much of the public hasn't gotten the deconstructionist message, as Ferguson merrily visits buffs, such as obsessive collectors of Lincolnalia and a convention of Abe and Mary Lincoln impersonators.
Ultimately dragooning his protesting kids into a road trip to Lincoln's boyhood haunts, Ferguson and his discovery of the infinitely malleable Abe--yesterday's Emancipator, today's business consultant--deliver wry, ever-humorous perspectives.
Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

"A splendid book...so wonderful I am sick with envy." ---The New York Post

From the Publisher

"A charming expedition in the extraordinary world of those who love, hate, market, and impersonate Lincoln. 
That a humorist with Ferguson's gifts should have written so funny a book comes as no surprise.
What is startling is just how moving it is." --Michael J.
Lewis, Commentary "There are at least 14,000 books on Abraham Lincoln, and even his greatest enthusiasts won't claim to have read a tenth of them.
Do we need another? Yes, indeed.
What Andrew Ferguson offers in Land of Lincoln is the geography of enthusiasm itself.
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A vivid, beautifully written book." --Ernest W.
Lefever, The Wall Street Journal "Splendid .
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so wonderful I am sick with envy .
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Land of Lincoln is a book that teaches you more about Lincoln in its way than a five-volume biography would, and more about America today than almost any other book I can think of." --John Podhorezt, New York Post "A hilarious, offbeat tour of Lincoln shrines, statues, cabins and museums.
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The Land of Lincoln turns out to be a big place: bigger than Illinois, bigger even than the United States, stranger than anyone would have thought.
Mr.
Ferguson maps it expertly, with an understated Midwestern sense of humor that Lincoln, master of the funny story, would have been the first to appreciate." --William Grimes, The New York Times "A wickedly funny yet surprisingly fresh road trip memoir." --John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Fascinating .
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a vibrant and consistently surprising account that chases the wraithlike spirit of the Great Emancipator as it is incarnated or invoked by those around us, usually on less-than-hallowed ground." --Art Winslow, Chicago Tribune "Brilliant .
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Ferguson's guided tour of the often amusing, sometimes bizarre ways we remember Lincoln today .
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is heartening and even inspiring." --Bill Kristol, Time "The best thing you'll read all summer." --Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times "Blends exhaustive historical research, biting satire and slice-of-life immediacy .
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Ferguson seamlessly mixes earnest history, objective observation and sharp wit.
His insight and humor help penetrate the murky years that separate modern America from one of its most famous presidents." --Adam Goldstein, Rocky Mountain News "A funny, sad, savage and tender account of contemporary America" --Roger Buoen, Minneapolis Star Tribune "Ferguson set out to find the real Abe, and his journey yields a portrait of modern American life unmatched in wit and insight.
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An extraordinary and wonderful book." --Tod Lindberg, Washington Times "Land of Lincoln is a gossamer creation, spun with generosity and wit.
So much so that you'll scarcely notice how formidable an enterprise it is as the narrative pulls you along." --Jonathan Last, Philadelphia Inquirer "Ferguson is a curious and incisive, amusing and often amused guide .
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On the surface, [his] subject is the present-day obsessives, eccentrics and entrepreneurs who chew over Lincoln, dress up like him or make bucks on his legacy .
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But this book is no comic toss-off .
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It's a sharp, funny, complex book." --Joshua Wolf Shenk, The New York Times Book Review

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Abraham Lincoln was our greatest president and perhaps the most influential American who ever lived. 
But what is his place in our country today? In this brilliant and captivating new book, Andrew Ferguson goes searching for Lincoln in homes, museums, national parks, roadside motels, and elsewhere from Rhode Island to Beverly Hills.
What he finds is a man whose spirit, mythology, and philosophy continue to shape our national identity in ways both serious and surprising.
Ferguson knows a thing or two about the Lincoln mystique.
As a child growing up in Illinois, he hung photos of Abe from his bedroom wall, memorized the Gettysburg Address, and read himself to sleep at night with the Second Inaugural.
Eventually the obsession ran its course.
But decades later, just when Ferguson had almost lost track of Lincoln completely, his buffdom was reignited.
In Land of Lincoln, Ferguson packs his bags and embarks on a journey to the heart of contemporary Lincoln Nation, where he encounters a world as funny as it is poignant, and a population as devoted as it is colorful.
In a small town in Indiana, Ferguson drops in on the national conference of Lincoln presenters, 175 grown men who make their living (sort of) by impersonating their hero.
He crisscrosses the country to meet the premier Lincoln memorabilia collectors, whose prized items include Lincoln's chamber pot, locks of his hair, and pages from a boyhood schoolbook.
In a motel outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he attends a leadership conference that teaches businesspeople how to run their companies more effectively by appropriating Lincoln's "management style." And in one of the book's most amusing sections, Ferguson takes his wife and children on a trip across the long-defunct Lincoln Heritage Trail, a driving tour of landmarks from Lincoln's life that wound through three states in the 1960s.
At one point, Ferguson even manages to hold a very special piece of American history in his hands (we wouldn't want to spoil the fun).
Told with an irresistible blend of humor and pathos, and propelled by a boyish enthusiasm as vast as it is infectious, Land of Lincoln is an entertaining, unexpected, and big-hearted celebration of our sixteenth president's enduring influence on our country--and the people who help keep his spirit alive.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"Writing with humor, insight, imagination, and warmth, Andy Ferguson has accomplished a most unusual feat--he gives us a fresh look at Abraham Lincoln and his impact on our country." --Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals  "Andy Ferguson is the single most important writer about American politics. 
Abe Lincoln was the single most important American politician.
The combination of Abe and Andy is--no other word will do--Lincolnesque.
Land of Lincoln is like its subject: wise, funny, melancholic, virtuous, complex, tragic, undefeated, kind, stern, and possessed of a fund of wonderful stories.
If you don't read this book you are on the wrong side of the twenty-first-century American Civil War, casting your lot with those who would secede from the union of good sense, good principles, and good humor." --P.J.
O'Rourke, author of Peace Kills and On The Wealth of Nations "What a funny and warm-hearted and wonderful book this is.
In Land of Lincoln, part sociology, part journalism, part history, Andy Ferguson's superb reporting bursts forth on each page.
This book belongs on the bookshelf of every civil war buff!" --Jay Winik, author of April 1865: The Month That Saved America "Land of Lincoln is, as its title suggests, LOL, which is to say, laugh-out-loud funny.
It's also a wonderful and serious book about the enduring impact of our greatest president, by one of our best and wittiest writers." --Christopher Buckley, author of Boomsday and Thank You for Smoking "Wow! This is a fascinating book.
With his usual humor and insight, but also with real poignancy, Ferguson looks at how we see ourselves as a nation by exploring the way we choose to see Lincoln.
The result is brilliant and amusing, but also deeply moving." --Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life "Now he belongs to the ages--including the age of kitsch, criticism, and yearning in which we live.
Andy Ferguson, one of the best writers in America, tracks Lincoln through twenty-first-century America with humanity, clarity, humor and passion--the very qualities of Lincoln himself." --Richard Brookhiser, author of What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Andrew Ferguson is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and lives in Washington, D.C.Patrick Lawlor has recorded over three hundred audiobooks in just about every genre. 
He has been an Audie Award finalist multiple times and has garnered several AudioFile Earphones Awards, a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, and many Library Journal and Kirkus starred audio reviews.

From The Washington Post

Reviewed by Harold Holzer  To anyone who watched the 2005 Discovery Channel mini-series "Greatest American"  --  and millions did  --  it is clear that Abraham Lincoln has morphed from controversial paradox to national icon back to controversial paradox. 
Condemned by 19th-century critics for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation too quickly (voters eviscerated his party in the next congressional elections), Lincoln has been damned by 21st-century critics for doing so too slowly.
Historians are well aware of this revisionist phenomenon; many have contributed to it.Now magazine writer Andrew Ferguson, a passionate Lincoln buff in his youth, has reawakened his long-dormant interest to discover the complex status of Lincoln's reputation.
His new book is part historiography, part travelogue, part memoir and part indictment -- if not of Lincoln, then of some of the modern Americans who devote themselves to preserving his reputation and memory.The book has been cleverly issued for Father's Day, because much of it is devoted to Ferguson's hilarious efforts to force-feed Lincoln to his cyberspace-conditioned children.
Hoping to vacation in the mountains or by the shore, the youngsters are instead dragged to the Lincoln sites Ferguson treasured in his own childhood.
No parent who ever packed a family into a station wagon will fail to identify with, and roar at, the adventures of the Ferguson clan on the Lincoln Heritage Trail -- Ferguson's son winces "against the torrent of information" in Springfield while his daughter mimics Dad's tour-guide enthusiasm.
And no father will be disappointed by their inevitable epiphany.
The old sites may have been reinterpreted into politically correct pabulum, the new ones blaringly Disneyfied, but somehow the impregnable Lincoln story -- that of the poor child who lived the American dream -- still resonates.Ferguson's cultural insights are vivid and penetrating.
He is a gifted observer and terrific writer, at his best with his family in tow.Unfortunately, he traveled on his own, too, and at private homes, museums, hotels, restaurants, conventions and retreats, his less charitable side occasionally took over.
Maybe he missed his wife and kids.By way of disclosure, my name appears in this book.
Ferguson mentions me in passing (as "a specialist in Lincolniana" who "used to write speeches for Mario Cuomo," an identification that will undoubtedly surprise Cuomo, who wrote his own).
Ferguson also manages to mischaracterize -- character assassinate might be a better term -- a number of Lincoln enthusiasts whom I have known for years, while puffing up some I wish I hadn't.
Such is his prerogative, but sometimes the vitriol boils over.
Frank Williams, who founded and still chairs the Lincoln Forum, is undeservedly caricatured as a self-aggrandizing don.
California mega-collector Louise Taper, a generous lender to public exhibitions, is observed in her vault fondling her treasures like a latter-day Midas.Lincoln impersonators, who sport stovetop hats and frock coats at their annual conventions, are easy targets.
Left unsaid is the fact that in today's comparatively history-free schools, these earnest pros sometimes constitute our last, best hope of teaching Lincoln to children who lack fathers like Andrew Ferguson.
Lincoln haters such as the born-again Confederates who viciously disrupted the unveiling of a Lincoln statue in Richmond get more sympathetic treatment than the folks who commissioned the sculpture.Oddly enough, Ferguson recently appeared with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN's book show "Q & A" to extol some of the people he savages in print.
Those who saw the Dr.
Jekyll on the tube might be astonishe by the Mr.
Hyde who occasionally comes through in these pages.Conceding he has read much of the Lincoln literature for the first time, Ferguson can be forgiven a few errors.
It is not true that Lincoln "declined" to run for re-election to Congress "when it became clear he would lose." He had agreed to serve only one term in order to rotate the safe seat among other rising Whigs, but, given the chance, would have gladly stood for a second term.
And Lincoln did not donate his handwritten Emancipation Proclamation to the Chicago Historical Society.
Rather, he gave it to a Chicago charity sale, winning a gold watch in the bargain for making the most valuable donation.
That said, Ferguson demonstrates a shrewd skepticism for William H.
Herndon's 19th-century Lincoln research, which too many modern biographers digest without the requisite grains of salt.But these are minor issues.
The major one is the cynicism that pervades so much of Ferguson's otherwise trenchant, sometimes laugh-out-loud narrative.Readers won't soon forget his hilarious re-telling of the final performance of one Billy Edd Wheeler's musical "Young Abe Lincoln," featuring pioneers a'dancin' "when someone got married or died, went a-huntin' or a-courtin', and even, in a particularly confusing dream sequence, when someone fell asleep." His saga of rediscovery manages to be both funny and depressing, a rare accomplishment.
But is it fair? One cannot help wishing that what Ferguson has captured is not really Lincoln's America.
Hopefully it is not America's Lincoln, either.Copyright 2007, The Washington Post.
All Rights Reserved.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

When journalist Andrew Ferguson revisits the places that fostered his boyhood admiration of Abraham Lincoln, he discovers an assortment of opinions as disparate as the nation itself. 
Ferguson blends myths and facts in a friendly, unassuming tone, and Patrick Lawlor provides a folksy, energetic narration.
Ferguson offers both sides of arguments that still rage around Lincolns policies--over 140 years after his death.
Lawlor delivers them with the appropriately sardonic words scholars differ.
From the Sons of the Confederacy in Richmond protesting a Lincoln statue to the 175 Lincoln impersonators in Indiana, from a leadership conference on Lincolns management style to the Disneyfication of the Lincoln Library in Springfield--Fergusons keen observations and Lawlors witty narration express multiple views of the president who preserved the Union.
S.J.H.
© AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Books on CD,Humor,History,Military,United States



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Comment List (Total:16)

  •     Using Mr. Lincoln as a common thread, a fun journey of discovery of modern day America through the lens of a traditional father -- albeit a wittily sardonic one. Mr. Ferguson is an accomplished writer with a firm grasp of the facts of Mr. Lincoln's life and a clear eye to the various hucksters--and the occasional simply good-hearted Lincoln buffs--that continue, in one way or another, to thrive off our country's enigmatic 16th president.While the author's telling thoughts on such diverse topics as conventions of impersonators; business leadership workshops; family vacations; urban planning; the National Park Service; and museum displays are not the fodder for traditional presidential histories, this is a book well worth reading. At its core, it is a heartfelt appreciation for a great man.
  •     I am a Lincoln fan as my husband was a Lincoln Presenter. I thought everyone loved Lincoln and the first chapter of this book about did me in. It really made me wonder if I wanted to read the book. After I got through that, it was a great story of a family about reliving the vacation the father had taken as a child. He thought his children, oops, I'm giving away too much of the story. You'll love this book and will enjoy the places they visit. It's a good read!
  •     If you are traveling around the Midwest, in Lincoln country, you'll love this book. If you have pre-teens or teens, the section about going on a car trip with the kids had us laughing riotously. The variety of Lincoln impersonators is wonderful. And the final story about the man who was imprisoned and visited by Lincoln in dreams is poignant. We had this as book on tape, too, and it was great.
  •     Great book,all emotions are here it's one men's journey to lincoln and his impact on people lives in the 21st century!!!
  •     OK, I know you will think I am over the top here, but this is one of my all-time favorite recorded books. Please believe me. Only about 3-4 other books I'd give 5 stars.
  •     A very sprightly and engaging book. You won't find a lot of deep history here, although the final chapter is exquisite in its poignancy.
  •     Lincoln represents what is best about the U.S. and this funny yet relevant book looks at Lincoln's often changing place in our nation.
  •     As Andrew Ferguson describes in his preface, "Land of Lincoln" is his discovery of the "country that Lincoln created and around which he still putters".
  •     I did not get to read the book. It was given as a gift so I can not comment on the actual book itself. It appeared in very good condition.
  •     Andrew Ferguson does a masterful job of showing how the legacy of Pres. Lincoln continues in the present day in diverse ways. The highlight of this book, at least for me, is the story of the Holocaust survivor's visit to Springfield. It's hard to read that story and not tear up.
  •     This book greatly exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be a witty travelogue with acid barbs directed at pompous self-regarded historians and revisionists.
  •     I enjoyed this book. If you're looking for a biography of Lincoln, though, this is not your book. It's a look at how the influence of Lincoln is felt in our culture today.
  •     Land of Lincoln is a irreverent look at a subfield of history and museum studies. Ferguson is not well versed in either field, but as a family man and writer, he is a keen observer of life about him. He picked up on our odd behaviors and conditions of our collections. Lincoln museums and historic sites do behave differently from related institutions. This is a problem and Ferguson points this out well. I intend to use this to review our own interpretation system and encourage my staff to read it too. A critical view from outside, though I can disagree with some of his findings, is very helpful for clear thinking.Thomas Mackie, DirectorAbraham Lincoln Library and MuseumLincoln Memorial UniversityHarrogate TN
  •     If Lincoln could have transported himself to present-day America, I wonder what he'd think of all the fuss? No one knows but Andrew Ferguson's book surely shows that plenty of scholars, publicists, Lincoln buffs and haters are more than willing to give it a shot. The conservative author can't help but inject snarky, funny remarks about practically every facet of the people who inhabit the Lincoln universe. From his amusing family trip through Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky in an attempt to retrace Lincoln's life; to interviewing memorabilia collectors, impersonators... excuse me... "reenactors"; visiting a bevy of memorials and enduring a business workshop that uses the 16th President as the template to empower middle managers in corporate America; you'll never find a dull moment between these pages. I didn't realize the extent that Lincoln permeated our country's commercial and cultural identity. This was very much an eye-opener. The book is an educational, fun read much in the vein of a Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods) work. Mr. Ferguson has written a great, entertaining book.
  •     "Land of Lincoln", by Weekly Standard staff writer Andrew Ferguson, is about Abraham Lincoln in contemporary America. Ferguson visits and talks with everything from a meeting of Lincoln-haters, to the new Lincoln Library in Springfield, Illinois, to a convention for Lincoln impersonators, presenting each with a lightly humorous touch. As a native Chicagoan, I particularly enjoyed Ferguson's reminiscences about time spent at the Chicago Historical Society (I loved the displays too); and his historical chapters, when he describes Herndon, Lincoln's former law partner and by far the most important source of information on Lincoln's life, and the great journalist Ida Tarbell (the scourge of John D. Rockefeller). Like Abe, Ferguson writes "with malice toward none, with charity toward all", in a book that I found humorous, informative, and thoughtful: a lovely meditation on Lincoln and on the America that he has so profoundly influenced.
  •     If you're a Lincoln lover (and you probably are if you're reading this) you will very much enjoy this book. Mr.

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