Relying on the recent scholarly biographies that have argued that many famous Abraham Lincoln stories are myths, Freedman carefully introduces a more realistic portrait than is usually found in juvenile biographies. The well-loved tales of Abe (a nickname he hated) courting Anne Rutledge, splitting rails in New Salem, or walking miles to obtain books are put into perspective with a few sentences. Lincoln comes alive as a conscientious lawyer who put clients at ease with stories but was a hopeless slob with files and papers. Freedman also offers a concise but excellent picture of Lincoln's struggle with the ethics and the politics of slavery, as well as his frustrating search for the right general to lead the Union troops. The 90 black-and-white photographs are highlighted by fine book design and by Freedman's comments about the nature of photography in the mid-1800's. While the photographs contribute much, it is Freedman's talent for putting the right details in uncomplicated prose that provides a very sharp focus for this Lincoln portrait. Appendixes include Lincoln quotes from 1832-1865, a description of Lincoln sites, notes on materials consulted, and an index. This is a necessary purchase for all collections—and an opportunity for librarians to scrutinize earlier biographies on Lincoln that have long occupied their shelves.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 1987

ISBN: 0899193803

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1987

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In exploring the impact of weather on human development and the course of civilization, Bova ranges from the effect of air pressure on school and work performance to the role of agriculture in establishing class distinctions and the relationship of human fear of snakes and falling to our tree dwelling past. But, except for a chapter devoted to climate-induced racial differences — in nose structure, body build and, less clearly, skin color — he pursues no particular topic, giving open questions the same casual passing attention he awards to such obvious observations as "lumbering takes place where there are forests" and "almost ali professional hockey players are Canadian." There is also a good deal of unnecessarily unintegrated background, all the way back to the formation of the solar system and the news that "the sun is a star." Less diffuse chapters too often seem devoted to telling readers what they already know ("weather is crucial to farming") and more questionable assertions are not properly qualified. It's probably true that the inflated 1972-73 meat prices came about "partly because of too much rain" in the corn belt Midwest, but to say so without mentioning the Russian wheat deal and other economic factors is beclouding the point. In sum, like the author's Man Changes the Weather (KR, 1973), this touches on some potentially interesting issues but does little to clear the air.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1974

ISBN: 0201005557

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1974

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