You may not have heard of the Lincoln Prize, unless you are a historian, in which case you are certain to be familiar with it, since it is the most generous of its kind, offering a first prize of $40,000. Established by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman to honor the best historical work each year on Lincoln and the Civil War era, the prize is now in its tenth year. First prize for this year, announced last week on Lincoln's birthday, went to Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, by Allen C. Guelzo (Eerdmans), and Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger (Oxford Univ. Press). Guelzo, a B & C contributing editor, is dean of the Templeton Honors College and Grace F. Kea Professor of American History at Eastern College in Pennsylvania.
If you are among the legion of readers who pick up virtually everything on Lincoln, you have probably read Guelzo's book already (or maybe you have it near the bed, halfway down the stack of last year's crop of Lincolniana). Stay tuned in the pages of Books & Culture for a review of Guelzo's book by scholar Richard Carwardine, which will appear later this year. But it would be a shame if Lincoln buffs were the only ones who profited from Guelzo's superb work, which has much to offer readers who, while acknowledging the fascination of our sixteenth and surely greatest president, could somehow manage to live out the rest of their days without opening another biography of Lincoln.
Guelzo's book, in fact, offers nothing less than a rewriting of American intellectual history. Set aside the log-cabin lore and prepare yourself for a feast of scholarship, in which Guelzo re-creates in rich detail the vibrant intellectual life of Lincoln's time. Lincoln, Guelzo ...1
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