Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America (Paperback)
In a masterly work, Garry Wills shows how Lincoln reached back to the Declaration of Independence to write the greatest speech in the nation’s history.
The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration than in the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln was asked to memorialize the gruesome battle. Instead he gave the whole nation “a new birth of freedom” in the space of a mere 272 words. His entire life and previous training and his deep political experience went into this, his revolutionary masterpiece.
By examining both the address and Lincoln in their historical moment and cultural frame, Wills breathes new life into words we thought we knew, and reveals much about a president so mythologized but often misunderstood. Wills shows how Lincoln came to change the world and to effect an intellectual revolution, how his words had to and did complete the work of the guns, and how Lincoln wove a spell that has not yet been broken.
"Garry Wills has given our nation's greatest gathering of words . . . new urgency . . . demonstrating that Lincoln's words still have power." -- William McFeely, The New York Times
"Dazzling . . . Wills is at his best, and his best may be the best that has ever been written about the Gettysburg Address as literature. Boldly revisionist and intoxicatingly original." -- Chicago Tribune
"Garry Wills' glowing reconstruction of Lincoln's words and the circumstances gives us a real understanding of what we rote-memorized as school children. This is what history is all about." -- Studs Terkel
"True to its historical antecedents and politically triumphant . . . A brilliantly creative reading of a critically important, indeed, culturally transforming, political document." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer