Keep sending me your thoughts on I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War. Today, we feature a commentary by Harry Kresky.
I AM ABRAHAM
This is a most unusual book. First, there is the question of what it is. It tells the story of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President in the first person, in Lincoln’s voice. And it is a novel by Jerome Charyn, our next guest on Cathy L. Stewart’s Politics for the People book club.
Charyn’s Lincoln, of course, grew up poor, was a small town lawyer, and was as physically strong as he was tall and homely. He led the country through a civil war, the abolition of slavery, and was assassinated six days after the war’s successful conclusion.
Next to George Washington, Lincoln is our most iconic president. This remarkable book reveals Lincoln’s inner life as told by himself. The narration describes Lincoln masturbating, worrying that his oratorical skills were inadequate as he began his famous Cooper Union speech and, most strikingly, the empathy Lincoln had for ordinary people – soldiers, impoverished and abused children, White House servants who included former slaves.
Incidents (such as a séance his wife brought him to as she tried to connect to their son William who died in the White House at age 12) are described in great detail – much more than exists in the historical record. While Charyn’s accounts are not “true,” they are always insightful in allowing us to access Lincoln, his time, his life and his character.
I look forward to the opportunity to hear more about the creative process that produced this book.
Harry Kresky is counsel to IndependentVoting.org and one of the country’s leading experts on nonpartisan primary reform and the legal issues facing independent voters.