2009 is the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. I was reminded of this fact when I recently bought a new copy of Obama’s inaugural address, which contained a copy of both of Lincoln’s inaugurals as well as the Gettysburg Address. Very interesting reading. The bicentennial isn’t the only reason Lincoln is interesting, of course. It might take an event such as this to get Australian readers (apart from Civil War historians and others) interested in him, but he contributed massively to the American national imagination. I enjoyed seeing Obama’s inauguration speech set out on a page, because this way I could see echoes of Lincoln in what he said. I won’t make any more Obama/Lincoln comparisons, since they’ve been done to death.
Even if you’re not as interested in this part of history (and its echoes today) as I am, you’ll enjoy the suspense and real-life-crime aspect of this book. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Abraham Lincoln’s Killer. It’s very exciting, and completely avoids the dry bogging-down in details that some well-researched historical books fall into. Very exciting, a good historical account of an important point in US history. If you’re looking for a book that will make history exciting to anyone, or you’re just interested in US history, this is a book for you.Filed under Books that deserve a look | Tags: History, Recycled Books, Your two cents worth - book reviews | Comment (0)
This book was chosen as Notable Book by both the New York Times and the Washington Post.
On the frontispiece Brooks quotes a poem by John Dryden recounting “…When spotted deaths ran arm’d through every street” — a vision of the plague striking London in 1666. He called this poem the Annus Mirabilis, The Year of Wonders. This titular “year of wonders” is obviously a thread that runs strong through the book. We follow the protagonist, Anna (a housekeeper in the small mountainous village of Eyam) through the plague year of 1666 and beyond. In the beginning the plague is only vaguely referred to, but as you work through the book the historical detail becomes more precise and very graphic. I was intruiged by the fact that the plague was bought to Eyam via an infected bolt of cloth. The ending isn’t disastrous but Brooks doesn’t sell it out to the cheap trick of a happy ending, either. As a whole the book manages to remain realistic through a sweeping, dramatic narrative.
In summary: A good read, well-researched, an interesting and breathless book by an Australian author.
If you like this book, we have some other books in stock that you might like:
Wrack by James Bradley, a gripping historical mystery set in New South Wales.
Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks.
In The Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, set in 16th Century Venice.
L’Yan recommends this book for people who like Salley Vickers, Kate Grenville, David Malouf and Valerie Anand.