Friday, February 01, 2008

CWL---New On My Personal Bookshelf

Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln, Gerald J. Prokopowicz, Pantheon Press, 311 pp., Illustrations, Bibliography, Index, 2008, $24.95

A year ago, while listening to Civil War Talk Radio, hosted by Gerry Prokopowicz, I caught his mention of a book he was writing entitled Did Lincoln Own Slaves?. He cited his experience as at Fort Wayne, Indiana's Lincoln Museum. I had visited the museum, along with the nearby James Dean grave and the American Quilt Hall of Fame, during the summer of 2006. As much as I enjoyed the museum, I did not think that I needed a book of questions generated by school-aged children.

What I didn't expect was about 500 thought provoking questions with cogent and clever answers. In segments entitled The Boy, The Rail Splitter, Springfield, Politician, Speaker, President, Commander-In-Chief, Gettysburg, Lincoln the Man, Martyr, and Legacy, Prokopowicz provides answers with bibliographic citations. For example, in the section entitled 'Emancipator' parses a variety of issues relating to racism, historiography, and the logic of the question 'Did Lincoln own slaves?'.

Did Lincoln Own Slaves? may be used as a topical dictionary, or a inquiry-based encyclopedia, or even conversation generated biography. It is a book that may be read from cover-to-cover, or the reader may enjoy a section of it at any time and in any order. An additional strength of the book is that each chapter has a 'For Further Reading' section. This book is recommended for public, school and academic libriaries as well as Lincoln enthusiasts and those not familar with Lincoln and his era. Did Lincoln Own Slaves? matches 2007's bestsellerLand of Lincoln by Andrew Furguson for information and entertainment.

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