The Unusual, the Unique, and the Strange:
An Odd Bibliography of Lincoln Studies
As a nod to the avid interest of all of us who are Lincoln aficionados, I included this page of curiosities. These are all books or other works about Lincoln that are unusual or odd. Some have suspect scholarship (or outright fantasies in a few cases), unique formats, or strange topical angles. However, they are all interesting and a testimony to the world’s enduring interest in Abraham Lincoln.
I’ve tried to offer a quick synopsis of each. If you know of a specific work you feel should be on this page, PLEASE leave a comment with the title and a brief summary, I will be glad to add it and credit you. I always respond to all queries/comments. This list will continue to grow, so check back often.
Alger, Jr, Horatio. (1883). Abraham Lincoln, The Backwoods Boy; or, How a Young Railsplitter Became President New York, NY: John R. Anderson & Henry S. Allen.
Alger wrote about well-behaved boys, who rose from “rags to respectability,” & he believed Lincoln to be a sterling example. Beware, he skewed his facts to portray Lincoln as such.
Andrews, Mary Raymond Shipman (1909). The Perfect Tribute. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
This is a 49-page novel of Lincoln’s trip to Gettysburg, PA, his speech, and the aftermath. It’s a bit melodramatic, but it offers a heart-warming, little story.
Angle, P. M. (Ed.) (1947). The Lincoln Reader (1st ed.). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
This book is included on this page NOT because it’s odd or inaccurate, but because the format actually makes this series of essays/anecdotes a unique biography of Abraham Lincoln. From the accounts of sixty-five different authors (including Lincoln’s writings), Angle selected passages that provide a fascinating but rather non-critical view of Lincoln. These passages, interwoven by Angle’s running commentary, blend this into a single narrative from his boyhood in Indiana to his assassination and funeral.
Balsiger, David & Sellier, Jr., Charles E. (1977). The Lincoln Conspiracy. Los Angeles, CA: Shick Sunn Classic Books.
Talk about conspiracy theories! The authors charge mainstream historians w/helping Lincoln’s cabinet to perpetuate a massive cover-up of a plot to kidnap Lincoln over his Reconstruction plans and more! It plays fast and loose with historical facts. Probably one of the earliest examples of MISINFORMATION. It’s a stretch to call this nonfiction.
Brooks, Eldbridge. (1896). “The True Story of Abraham Lincoln The American.” Children’s Lives of Great Men Series. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Company.
With a format geared to children, this work has over seventy-five illustrations (some of the pen/ink variety & some are old photos)! Written as if it is being told in person, (“I might as well tell you…“), it embellishes the facts. One thing I DID like about it (besides the illustrations) was the addition of odd facts that helped place Lincoln in the larger picture of history (Kentucky was the home of Daniel Boone, James Monroe was president when Lincoln was a boy, & so forth). (This book was reprinted in paperback in 2013.)
Gross, A., & Lincoln, A. (1912). Lincoln’s Own Stories. Collected and edited by A. Gross. With portrait. New York & London: Harper & Bros.
A great book that is FULL of stories supposedly told BY Lincoln and OF Lincoln. The veracity of the tales is in question, but even so, the people interviewed who offered their individual “favorites” was a Who’s Who of American and Illinois politics from 1840s -1870s. Gross organized the stories in a chronological fashion by periods in Lincoln’s life – Earlier Years, The Lawyer, Local Politics and The Douglas Debates, etc.
Carnegie, Dale (1932) Lincoln The Unknown. Forest Hills, NY: Forest Hills Publishing Company.
A writer, speaker, and wealthy developer of famous courses on self-improvement [How to Win Friends and Influence People], public speaking, corporate training, and salesmanship, Carnegie suddenly wrote this largely anecdotal Lincoln biography – a look at his youth, his marriage, his loves, his struggles. While Carnegie spent time literally walking in Lincoln’s footsteps across Illinois and Indiana, doing interviews, looking into many journals and original papers, his work is largely considered suspect “scholarship.” Interesting read though. [See the cover of his book above.]
Curtis, William Eleroy (1903). The True Abraham Lincoln. Philadelphia, PA & London, England: J.B. Lippincott Company.
This is written as a collection of short stories about moments in Abraham Lincoln’s life. In addition to the James Russel Lowell’s “Commemoration Ode” to Lincoln, there are some very interesting illustrations of people, places, and literally “things” (invitation to a Springfield Cotillion). I like this because it looks at Lincoln’s life as a series of events that mold the man. Interesting viewpoint.
Drinkwater, John (1919). Abraham Lincoln: A Play With an Introduction by Arnold Bennet. Boston, MA & New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.
John Drinkwater, an Englishman, wrote this play about Lincoln in the waning years of WWI (1917-1918). In his introduction, he maintains that while he stays true to the history of Lincoln, he does take dramatic license with the moments in which Lincoln creates the history. I’d like to see this play performed some time.
Hanaford, Mrs. P.A. (1865). Abraham Lincoln: His Life and Public Services. Boston, MA: B.B. Russell and Company.
A religiously tinted view of the newly “martyred president,” this work was rushed to market to capitalize on his death. It’s a very prejudiced, inaccurate account of Lincoln. However, it remains a good read simply because: 1. The author was a female writer in the 19th Century; 2. She lived with his candidacy and presidency, and this is her perspective – however unscholarly her account may be.
Lincoln, Abraham (1914?). Speeches and Addresses of Abraham Lincoln. New York, NY: Little Leather Library Corporation.
This source was a novelty item for just a few years around WW I. The brainchild of Charles and Albert Boni, and the marketing genius of ad-men Harry Scherman and Maxwell Sackheim [who will go on to start the Book of the Month Club franchise], these little books measure 3″ wide x 4″ tall – truly a LITTLE library. It has 96 pages of a NICE variety of Lincoln addresses – Springfield Speech (1858), Cooper’s Institute Address (1860), etc.
Sandburg, Carl & The Religious Tract Society of London (Eds.) (1957). Lincoln’s Devotional: Introduction by Carl Sandburg. Great Neck, NY: Channel Press.
This was given to me as a lad by an uncle who was a protestant minister. It is allegedly a copy of the devotional Lincoln kept in his desk. An interesting collection of religious prayers and sayings, this non-denominational work provides an interesting insight into the religious side of the former President. The introduction, by the way, is by Sandburg, who also wrote a multi-volume work on Lincoln – The Prarie Years and The War Years.
Schauffler, Robert Haven, editor. (1924). “Lincoln’s Birthday.” Our American Holidays. NY: Dodd, Mead and Co.
Schauffler was a musician, a WWI veteran, a Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry, and an author of many books, ten of which were devoted to American holidays. This is the description under the title: “A comprehensive view of Lincoln as given in the most noteworthy essays, orations and poems, in fiction and in Lincoln’s own writings.” I leave it for you to decide from there. (There was a reprint of this volume in 1976.)
Trock, Alan L. 36 Hours to Save the President. N.p.: n.p., 2016. Ebook. ISBN 0997412917
Another unique novel about Lincoln. Using a time travel theme, a modern-day Lincoln aficionado, and a spirit guide who offers him a 36-hour window of opportunity to stop the assassination of Lincoln, the author begins the countdown! A.L. [Alex Linwood NOT Abraham Lincoln] meets all the key players [and then some] as he races to beat the clock. We all know how it ends – but just maybe, there’s an alternate universe where the ending is different. Good read!