Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History

Lincoln s Body A Cultural History In a stunning feat of scholarship insight and engaging prose Lincoln s Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright ugly of aspect came to mean so much to us The very roughness of L

  • Title: Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History
  • Author: Richard Wightman Fox
  • ISBN: 9780393352634
  • Page: 341
  • Format: Paperback
  • In a stunning feat of scholarship, insight, and engaging prose, Lincoln s Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright ugly of aspect came to mean so much to us.The very roughness of Lincoln s appearance made him seem all the common, one of us as did his sense of humor about his own awkward physical nature Nineteenth century African Americans felt dIn a stunning feat of scholarship, insight, and engaging prose, Lincoln s Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright ugly of aspect came to mean so much to us.The very roughness of Lincoln s appearance made him seem all the common, one of us as did his sense of humor about his own awkward physical nature Nineteenth century African Americans felt deep affection for their liberator as a homely man who did not hold himself apart During Reconstruction, Southerners felt a nostalgia for the humility of Lincoln, whom they envisioned as a conciliator Later, teachers glorified Lincoln as a symbol of nationhood that would appeal to poor immigrants Monument makers focused not only on the man s gigantic body but also on his nationalist efforts to save the Union, downplaying his emancipation of the slaves.Among both black and white liberals in the 1960s and 1970s, Lincoln was derided or fell out of fashion More recently, Lincoln has once again been embodied as both idealist and pragmatist, unafraid of conflict and transcending it by outstanding historians, by self identified Lincolnian president Barack Obama, and by actor Daniel Day Lewis all keeping Lincoln alive in a body of memory that speaks volumes about our nation.

    One thought on “Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History”

    1. Whilst I found the connection to Lincoln's physical body throughout this book somewhat tenuous in places, as a exploration of Lincoln's cultural afterlife it was excellent. As Wrightman Fox points out, other US presidents have been respected, lauded, mourned, but no other is loved in the way that Lincoln was and continues to be. Washington may be equally as honoured and venerated, perhaps more so, but he is not beloved in the way of Lincoln. A large part of this, the author argues, is because of [...]

    2. This was not the book that I expected. With a title like "Lincoln's Body" and a description that emphasized the president's physicality, I anticipated that this book would be more a specific history of the materiality of Lincoln's body after death-- how people made sense of his lanky features, the use of his body in mourning rituals, and the development of his tomb. Although all of those items are discussed in Fox's "Lincoln's Body," the book is a much more a expansive history of how Americans f [...]

    3. This cultural history deals with the public's fascination with Abraham Lincoln down through the last 150 years, his physical body as well as the interpretation of his presidency, from national hagiography to revisionism. It starts with a brief rundown of Lincoln's life and career and then explains how Lincoln's life and presidency was portrayed in books, plays and films throughout history.

    4. I was expecting to be totally uninterested in this book- I figured it was just another book about cultural memory around Lincoln, and like, I've read Merrill Peterson and Barry Watson so what more could be said? And admittedly, some sections of this book do read like those books--there were parts that I went "eh, this isn't super duper new information to me, or a new way of analyzing it." But some parts--particularly the opening chapter about Lincoln's body as a political tool, where I was like [...]

    5. Would actually give it a 4.5. I've read several books on Lincoln and and if a book has some new and interesting facts then I consider it a good read. And, even though the premise was a little strange, it provided a wealth of new facts.

    6. Historian Richard Wightman Fox employs a unique concept in discussing Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln's body. His body - the physical, the figurative, the aura, and the memory - is used to trace how he was perceived at the time and during several periods since then to the present day. In doing so, Fox has successfully provided a mirror onto not only Abraham Lincoln, but ourselves.The book is split into three main parts ostensibly covering three broad concepts and also three broad time periods. The Publ [...]

    7. This year, 2015, is the 150th year anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Many books have covered Lincoln's life and his death; Richard Wightman Fox's new book, "Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History", looks at how Lincoln has fared as an historical figure since his death.Richard Fox, professor of History at the University of Southern California, begins his book with Lincoln's assassination, a well-documented story. But he concentrates both on how Lincoln perceived himself before his death [...]

    8. I've never actually considered the importance of any historical figure's literal, physical body before. More conventional history tends toward examining the life events, or the thoughts, or the effects of a person, not the meaning invested in their tangible, physical carcass. In "Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History," however, Fox does just that. He begins with the impact of Lincoln's taller-than-average, lean and muscular physique, how imposing he, with his height, broad shoulders, pronounced che [...]

    9. Though this book states from the title it is a cultural history of Lincoln's body, it is so much more, following the national obsession as it ebbed and flowed from the time Lincoln was assassinated right up to the here and now.Firstly, I find it so utterly strange how people in Lincoln's time were so obsessed with his physicality - and took any opportunity they had to point out he was not particularly attractive. I guess I've never noticed this before, I've never found him hideous or grotesque. [...]

    10. a very original way of looking at ol' Abe and well executed many people, then and now, feel some physical attachment to Lincoln, and associate his physical characteristics to what makes him endearing - his lined facial appearance connects to his authentic concern for all citizens, his wiry, muscular frame a testament to his work ethic, etc. it is said he gave his very body for the republic, and as such, his lasting impact on our nation and culture among rich & poor, black & white, nort [...]

    11. Adding this to the pile of books that came out this year to commemorate the 150 year 'anniversary' of Lincoln's death and the end of the war this book stands out given its unique approach. Granted, it is at times "a stretch" to link Lincoln"s "body" to some of the topics discussed in the book, Fox does chronicle how Lincoln has been viewed over the years--from the initial attempts to deify him to later attempts to demonize him. It is an interesting journey and at times the topic seemed to be lik [...]

    12. Both the name and the official book jacket description indicate a focus on Lincoln's physical form in the way that he is memorialized and remembered. While there is much discussion of Lincoln's physical body, physical movements and traits - and even a rather detailed history of Lincoln's corpse - the book strays from this primary focus. Some of the most interesting chapters are not about Lincoln's physical form at all, but rather about the memorial poetry, speeches and narratives of his life.Ove [...]

    13. I give it 4.5 stars. It seemed like a pretty traditional book about Lincoln in the first two chapters, but it became more complex as it went on. Though the connection to "Lincoln's body" were sometimes thin, this book does magnificent job of looking at how succeeding generations have thought about and memorialized Lincoln. The author asks the question, "What does Lincoln mean to Americans?" He looks at interpretations of Lincoln's words and actions and poetry, photographs, monuments, books and m [...]

    14. Fox does an excellent job of tracing how Lincoln's cultural significance has changed over time and of showing how each generation since Lincoln's death has viewed "the great Emancipator" slightly differently. I did find myself wishing for a more clearly stated overarching argument (particularly confusing is whether Fox is trying to make some sort of argument centered around Lincoln's actual physical appearance or not), but the book was full of enough entertaining anecdotes and fascinating histor [...]

    15. Fox writes an excellent book about Lincoln and US cultural history. Fox uses Lincoln's body as the focal point for Lincoln's role in our nation's history - from the time of his presidency to the present. Several chapters discussing Lincoln's assassination and the nation's response to it is reminiscent of Hodes's "Mourning Lincoln". Reading this book after reading a biography of John Wilkes Booth seemed fitting.

    16. Lincoln's Body is a marvelous, cross-cultural and cross-historical take on the significance and influence of Lincoln from the 1850s to the modern day. Considering Lincoln's actual corporeal form, as well as the ways Lincoln was portrayed and represented by politicians, civil rights leaders, historians, and in monuments, statues, books, and films, Fox crafts an incredibly readable way of studying the way a legacy can shift and grow as years go by. This book is richly rewarding.

    17. (I received a ARC through the generosity of the publisher and First Reads)An awesome book for a hard core Lincoln fan. Filled with facts and pictures(ok my ARC. did not contain pictures but some I was able to Google) this book is a worthy addition to your history shelf. If you enjoyed/savored Doris Kearnes Goodwin's 'Team of Rivals', you will enjoy this title.

    18. Lincoln's Body:A Cultural History was received through .This stunning book is an absolute ust read for a Lincolnphile. It provides a unique insight into this complex man through the lens of his phsical body. I was disappointed that pictures were not in th ARC.

    19. I won this book on . The book starts with Lincoln's looks and how he and others thought he looked, it moves to his death and what happened to the body. the rest of the book is about where he was buried, how many times and why he was moved and then goes on to different memorials for him.

    20. How Lincoln was seen by his contemporaries and then contining through today. Some surprising tidbits (among them that Disney's animotronic Lincoln was deliberately given a voice very unlike description's of Lincoln's actual one). Nice illustrations.

    21. This book is a great scholarly work. It starts out fascinating and it reads like a novel. I am familiar with much of the topic he is writing about and facts. So, at the end it was less interesting to me. Great research source!

    22. "Wightman Fox ('Jesus in America') creates an intimate, moving history of Lincoln that goes beyond the typical chronology of Lincoln’s life."Read more here.

    23. First Reads Winner!Although I'm grateful for an advance copy to review and enjoy, I'm curious as to why there are no graphics in it. has them in their review. Hmm Something to ponder.More to follow!Thanks,Sandy

    24. This is a unique approach to Lincoln that combines things normally scattered across different types of books.

    25. Comprehensive, fascinating, and a little overwritten considering the title. More of a study on how the American people viewed Lincoln. Lack of illustrations and photos is a drawback.

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