Book Review: "Lincoln at Gettysburg" by Garry Wills

Essay by shlazz April 2007

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Abraham Lincoln demonstrated to the people that as President of the United States he can make a big difference in the world regarding these human rights issues. His character and big heart is shown clearly when he announces the Emancipation Proclamation, the famous Gettysburg Address and keeping the nation together after years of civil war. Garry Wills in his book gives his insights of the Gettysburg Address to the reader concerning of a great deal of the man known as Abraham Lincoln, the writer and orator behind that world-changing speech. Readers are provided with background into his life, an appreciated glimpse of the man behind the symbol. The depiction of Lincoln as an orator is also useful in evidencing Wills' view. When speaking of voice, Wills proclaims Everett's as sweet and expertly modulated while Lincoln's was high to the point of shrillness. This is an important point. Lincoln is not perfect.

Just like every other human, he is subject to imperfections and shortcomings.

It is also significant that such a sentence would be inserted by Wills. Its inclusion implies his agreement. The statement and his Kentucky accent offended some eastern sensibilities are also portentous. If an eastern accent is sensible, a Kentucky accent must be viewed as insensible and, as such, insinuating of a disadvantaged background. Such a fact provides a point of relation and brings Lincoln to a level at which readers and Wills alike can compare. After cleverly accomplishing such, Wills proceeds to build Lincoln up. Lincoln's tenor voice was endowed with carrying power. He is credited with his audibility, something on which there is agreement.

Since Lincoln has a mind into which the reader can be brought, this is clearly a humanistic portrayal, an effort to create for Lincoln a personality. In speaking of voice, Wills states,