That Abe Lincoln has a lot to answer for! First of all, the trailer for the current film was on last night as I waited for Les Mis to begin. Obviously one cannot judge the film by a few quick takes here and there in a trailer but I must say that Daniel Day-Lewis's shouting, peremptory, desk-banging attitude got up my nose! The second thing that Abe has to answer for is finally provoking me into buying a good biography of his life. I have one which has remained on my book shelf untouched since I first bought it from a charity shop. It is a slim volume written by Jan Morris but I am somewhat reluctant to start it because one of the reviews describes it as "blending fact, narrative and imagination"(!) which is not what I am looking for. As that old American TV policeman used to say in every episode, "Just gimme the facts". And I want the facts even more now that I have read a letter in today's Telegraph (can't find a link) from the historian, Alan Sked, in which he says that:
Lincoln was a racist who deliberately started a war that killed more than 650,000 people. He had no intention of freeing slaves, who freed themselves by fleeing to Unionist lines during a war that was going badly for the North and in which they became needed as recruits. [...]
Until the day he died, Lincoln's ideal solution to the problem of blacks was to "colonise" them back to Africa or the tropics.
Eh? What? Is that really true? Tell me it ain't so - but better still, recommend to me as honest a biography as you know of. 'SoD' gave me a fistful of book tokens for Christmas and, on your advice, I will invest some of them into a good biography of the man about whom I know nothing other than the 'saintly' glow which emanates to this day from his historical persona; a glow, incidentally, which, in so far as I ever think about it, I view with some suspicion!