The Gettysburg Address: Perspectives on Lincoln’s Greatest Speech

Edited by Sean Conant. Oxford Univ, $19.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-190227-45-6
To coincide with his eponymous documentary film set for release this year, Conant has amassed an impressive roster of talent to analyze the Gettysburg Address through a number of different lenses. He divides this anthology into two sections: the first eight essays examine what influenced Lincoln’s words, including his 1852 eulogy for Henry Clay, while the last seven look at how the address played a part in issues including immigration, women’s rights, the Civil Rights movement, and even the founding of the People’s Republic of China. There are intriguing discussions as to whether Lincoln’s remarks presaged a second American revolution or just represented a return to the values and ideals of the Founding Fathers, as well as the effect the address had on America’s traditions for memorializing the dead. Readers who have not read the text in a while should start with the Appendix, which provides transcriptions of the five existing copies of the Address; they will find some surprises, including its avoidance of the topics of slavery and saving the Union. Conant shows that, for such a brief set of remarks (it’s only 272 words long), the Gettysburg Address deserves its outsized reputation. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/30/2015
Release date: 05/01/2015
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-0784-8
Hardcover - 370 pages - 978-0-19-022744-9
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