So famously declared Secretary of State Edwin Stanton after our martyred sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, breathed his last.
I have studied and researched Lincoln all my life, but it was not until recent years that I had the audacity to write a book on his life and legacy: Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2008). Before writing a single word, I studied 60 more books on Lincoln (many penned by those who actually knew him personally).
I had certain specific objectives:
• I wanted, in the process, to discover for myself whether or not Lincoln was all I had idealized him to be over the years. Since we all have feet of clay (human frailties, if you will), I was more than a little apprehensive about what I might find when I dug deep into his life.
• I wanted readers of the book to consider it a spiritual experience. To that effect, I daily prayed the Prayer of Solomon, asking God to grant me divine wisdom that day, that the words would be His, rather than mine.
• I wanted to write a book, not just for scholars (there are untold thousands of Lincoln books out there), but for the average person who takes one look at the blur of books about Lincoln on bookstore shelves, and sighs, “Never in a lifetime could I fully digest all that—I want to really get to know the man—in just one book.” I wanted my book to be that book.
• I wanted the book to be as unputdownable as I could make it.
• I wanted it to be that rarity among any author’s books: the one brainchild you love so much you go back to it again and again, never tiring of it.
• I wanted the reader to feel, at the end of it, that s/he now really understands the complex but fascinating world Lincoln lived in.
• I wanted history to really come alive.
• I wanted to feature one of the greatest ever compendiums of Lincoln quotations.
• I wanted to include some of the most moving stories about Lincoln.
• I wanted there to be plenty of Ah-hah’s, even among Lincoln scholars: I didn’t know that! You know, I’d never even thought of that before. Wait until I share this with ____!
• I wanted all age groups to love it.
• I wanted readers to return to it again and again.
• I wanted the book to meet such a special need in the hearts, minds, and souls of readers, that no one would want to see it die (go out of print).
• And I wanted to be able to honestly say, looking back at it later, “It was worth having lived—just to have written that one book.”
The responses so far have been —– oh, to tell you the truth, I’d far rather hear your responses.
“Washington was a typical American, Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country – bigger than all the presidents together.
We are still too near his greatness, but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us.”
– Leo Tolstoy
Please visit our web site for more details on the book, Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage.