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Other titles in the Nathan I. Huggins Lectures series:
Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory (Nathan I. Huggins Lectures)by Harold Holzer
Synopses & Reviews
Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation, a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation. These seventeen hundred words are Lincoln's most important piece of writing, responsible both for his being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient and half-hearted.
Harold Holzer, an award-winning Lincoln scholar, invites us to examine the impact of Lincoln's momentous announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time. Using neglected original sources, Holzer uncovers Lincoln's very modern manipulation of the media--from his promulgation of disinformation to the ways he variously withheld, leaked, and promoted the Proclamation--in order to make his society-altering announcement palatable to America. Examining his agonizing revisions, we learn why a peerless prose writer executed what he regarded as his "greatest act" in leaden language. Turning from word to image, we see the complex responses in American sculpture, painting, and illustration across the past century and a half, as artists sought to criticize, lionize, and profit from Lincoln's endeavor.
Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln's efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln's obfuscations made it nearly impossible to discern his true motives. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, this concise volume is a vivid depiction of the painfully slow march of all Americans--white and black, leaders and constituents--toward freedom.
"Holzer, who won a prize for his analysis of Lincoln's 1860 speech at Cooper Union, now examines the Emancipation Proclamation. The book, based on a series of lectures at Harvard in 2010, outlines Lincoln's approach to drafting the document and creating a climate for its acceptance; reactions to the text, especially the disappointment on the part of some that it lacked 'grandeur or Book of Exodus fervor'; and changing depictions of it and of Lincoln, first as the Great Emancipator, later 'generic hero of national unity,' or simply a great leader. Tracing the history of the iconography of Lincoln and the Proclamation, Holzer deftly leads readers through American racial politics from the Civil War to the election of President Obama. Readers lacking Holzer's expertise could use more particulars on Lincoln's juggling of possible political ruin, the abolition of slavery, and the pursuit of Union victory. Images of the Proclamation and political cartoons shed light on the text and its reception in 1863." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Emancipation Proclamation is responsible both for Lincoln's being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient. Holzer examines the impact of Lincoln's announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time.
Harold Holzer is a 2008 National Humanities Medal Winner
About the Author
Harold Holzer is Senior Vice President, External Affairs, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Arts and Entertainment » Art » Theory and Criticism