Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Illustrated

President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address helped unify the United States, refocusing its citizens on freedom for every person, charity, and godly compassion. That's why radio talk show host Mark Levin's father, Jack E. Levin, created Abraham Lincoln's Gettusburg Address Illustrated.

This reproduction of the elder Levin's slender book begins with a preface by his famous son, Mark. Here, Mark tells us a bit about his father - a man of modest means who has achieved a great deal in his lifetime. The elder Levin, we learn, had the Civil War come to life for him while watching a parade where a single Civil War veteran in full Union attire appeared. Later, Jack Levin became a working artist. Wanting to bring American history to life for others, he conceived a book that would reprint Lincoln's famous speech along with period photographs, illustrations, and maps.

Jack Levin's succinct, original introduction recounts why Lincoln gave his now famous speech. It also offers details about various versions of the speech and why the author chose the particular version reprinted in the book. (Because it's the only one Lincoln signed.)

Then, in large lettering, the rest of the book reprints the speech, overlaying the text upon actual photographs of Civil War battlefields, paintings of the Founding Fathers, maps, period drawings of battles, and period newspaper clippings.

The original speech, in Lincoln's own writing, is reprinted at the end of the book.

What I Like: Some will complain you can find the Gettysburg Address all over the Internet for free. But there's little doubt that having visual images to go along with text helps readers see the greater meaning of the speech. Perhaps such resources are available online, but I'd always rather have a book to hold and keep.

This volume, with it's mostly large type and full page period illustrations, is a good way to learn about one of the most important speeches ever made in the United States. Some of the illustrations are quite moving - authentic photos of the dead on the battlefield, for example, and men in uniform going about the daily business of the Civil War.

The speech is still relevant today, too, as Lincoln reminds us our country was founded upon God and liberty, and that Americans should strive to protect the union and each other or risk having "this government of the people, by the people, for the people...perish[ing] from the earth."
What I Dislike: True enough, most of the original sources for illustrations are in black and white, but some are in color (a painting of the founders, and a flag background, for example). Although it's nice to have an exact reprint of this 1960s book, some added color would have been an excellent addition.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: No age range is given, but I'd say age 8 to adult.

Publishing Info: Threshold, 2010; ISBN: 978-1439188965; hard back, $16.99

Buy Now at Amazon.com for $9.49

Special Info: Several photos of dead soldiers on Civil War battle fields are included in this book, so parents need to consider their child's personal level of maturity before sharing the volume.

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