Lincoln/Obama as readers

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Lincoln/Obama as readers

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Jan 19, 2009, 6:22pm

There's an interesting article in today's New York Times talking about Lincoln and Obama as reading lovers. It also compares Obama's reading style to that of George W. Bush.

It cites an interesting-sounding book I hadn't heard of--a new biography of Lincoln called "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer" which was written by Fred Kaplan. According to the article (and the book), Lincoln was a lifelong lover of books, which shaped his writing.

Jan 22, 2009, 11:15am

Here's the New York Times article: From Books, New President Found Voice . Here's the best quote:

Mr. Obama tends to take a magpie approach to reading — ruminating upon writers’ ideas and picking and choosing those that flesh out his vision of the world or open promising new avenues of inquiry.

His predecessor, George W. Bush, in contrast, tended to race through books in competitions with Karl Rove (who recently boasted that he beat the president by reading 110 books to Mr. Bush’s 95 in 2006), or passionately embrace an author’s thesis as an idée fixe. Mr. Bush and many of his aides favored prescriptive books — Natan Sharansky’s “Case for Democracy,” which pressed the case for promoting democracy around the world, say, or Eliot A. Cohen’s “Supreme Command,” which argued that political strategy should drive military strategy. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, has tended to look to non-ideological histories and philosophical works that address complex problems without any easy solutions, like Reinhold Niebuhr’s writings, which emphasize the ambivalent nature of human beings and the dangers of willful innocence and infallibility.

The Kaplan book is here: Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer.

Maio 20, 2011, 8:53pm

My understanding of Lincoln as a reader was that hiis reading consisted primarily of books oh the Constitution and Law. It is said that he self taught either Trigonomtry or Calculus and he spent a great amount of time reading the Old Testamont. He read very little literature, although Ivanhoe was one of the few Literature books that he read. He also had a great love for Shakespeare as well. Both of these he had in common with Jefferson Davis.