Lincoln's Boys by Joshua Zeitz
John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image

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Zeitz...offers interesting analyses of the rise of "Lincolnia," the quest for souvenirs of a man who was not universally admired while he was alive, and of historical revisionism, the pendulum swings of how we perceive the past.
-LA Times

Synopsis

A timely and intimate look into Abraham Lincoln’s White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidants

Lincoln’s official secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president’s immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote about it after his death.

In their biography of Lincoln, Hay and Nicolay fought to establish Lincoln’s heroic legacy and to preserve a narrative that saw slavery—not states’ rights—as the sole cause of the Civil War. As Joshua Zeitz shows, the image of a humble man with uncommon intellect who rose from obscurity to become a storied wartime leader and emancipator is very much their creation.

Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs, Lincoln’s Boys is part political drama and part coming-of-age tale—a fascinating story of friendship, politics, war, and the contest over history and remembrance.
 

About Joshua Zeitz

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Josh Zeitz has taught American history and politics at Cambridge University, Harvard University, and Princeton University.  He is the author of several books on American political and social history and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic,  Dissent, American Heritage.  He lives with his wife and daughter in Hoboken, NJ."
 
Published February 4, 2014 by Penguin Books. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Lincoln's Boys
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Nov 26 2013

Fascinating scholarship from Zeitz, who knows how to present history to an audience of nonspecialists.

Read Full Review of Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, Joh... | See more reviews from Kirkus

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Scott Martelle on Feb 06 2014

Zeitz...offers interesting analyses of the rise of "Lincolnia," the quest for souvenirs of a man who was not universally admired while he was alive, and of historical revisionism, the pendulum swings of how we perceive the past.

Read Full Review of Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, Joh... | See more reviews from LA Times

The Economist

Above average
Reviewed by Samantha Coville on Feb 22 2014

“Lincoln’s Boys” is reinvigorated when Mr Zeitz returns to his core subject: the work Hay and Nicolay did with Lincoln’s legacy.

Read Full Review of Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, Joh... | See more reviews from The Economist

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