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Fortune's Fool
04-17-2015, 03:00 PM (This post was last modified: 04-17-2015 05:21 PM by LincolnToddFan.)
Post: #15
RE: Fortune's Fool
[
Bennett and his ideas are too casually dismissed by Lincolnites as “a historical hobby-horse.” (Michael Burkhimer quoting Gabor Boritt in “The Lincoln Assassination as a Rebuttal to the Bennett Thesis,” Surratt Courier, 26 [October 2001], 4-9). But already Fortune’s Fool is praised as being “so deeply researched and persuasively argued that it should stand as the standard portrait for years.” (Harold Holtzer, Wall Street Journal, Bookshelf, March 27, 2015). All deserved praise aside, as Jennifer Schuessler points out in the New York Times (April 14, 2015, p. C1), Alford’s book really does not end the various arguments about Booth’s character, “let alone the larger one over the meaning of Booth’s act.”

That is because, in the end, Alford is essentially writing about Abraham Lincoln, not John Wilkes Booth. As one contemporary put it, “None of you who judged [Booth] knew him.” Unfortunately, in spite of Alford’s admirable study, we still don’t.]// quote

But we can say the same thing about any controversial, much studied figure of history, can we not?Huh

I grew up reading Lerone Bennett's essays in EBONY and JET magazine. I agree that his conclusions about Lincoln's "race problem" have been too easily dismissed by Lincoln scholars and many in the so-called "Cult of Lincoln".

My problem with Mr. Bennett is his "baby with the bathwater" dismissal of the idea of any type of complexity, growth, or nuance in President Lincoln's attitudes toward race and slavery from his beginnings in the Indiana/Kentucky backwoods to his tenure as president. The man was an enigma and a puzzle to many, including me. It's what drives a lot of the fascination toward him. Because he attended minstrel shows and used the "n word" does not make his sincere and profound belief that slavery is wrong moot. It does not mean that because he was not convinced that Blacks were his social and intellectual equals renders meaningless his belief that they did deserve to live as free men in a country that had been founded on democratic principles.

Bennett is offended, stridently so, because he felt that Lincoln talked the talk but did not walk the walk. But what about his treatment of another man that I admire, Martin Luther King Jr.? Bennett's 1969 hagiography of Dr. King ("What Manner of Man?") was published long before some rather jolting revelations about King's personal life entered the public domain. But when they did become public, Bennett evinced no offense or disappointment toward this idolized, iconographic figure, like he did when his bubble was burst about Lincoln(a man he had formerly admired). In fact, when African Americans like the late Ralph Abernathy and recently Professor Michael Eric Dyson wrote books that went into painful detail about REVEREND King's prodigious extra-marital activities and some of his unflattering comments about Black women, I don't remember so much as a peep from Bennett.

It's an example of the type of selective hagiography that I can't understand.

Neither King nor Lincoln were perfect men, worthy of worship. I can be inspired by the courage and eloquence and greatness of these two men while accepting dichotomy, sometimes quite troubling, in the characters of both.

As for Booth? I admit that I have not gotten around to the Alford book yet. But I have read a lot about him, including Michael Kauffman's classic "American Brutus". He was charismatic, manipulative, charming, beautiful to look at. But if there was any depth to him besides his violent racism and his conviction that Southern culture was superior to that of the North I haven't been made aware of it yet.
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Fortune's Fool - L Verge - 04-06-2015, 05:08 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 04-06-2015, 08:07 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - L Verge - 04-06-2015, 09:24 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Susan Higginbotham - 04-07-2015, 08:30 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - RJNorton - 04-14-2015, 05:52 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Eva Elisabeth - 04-14-2015, 07:49 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 04-14-2015, 08:49 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Rsmyth - 04-16-2015, 11:16 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Wild Bill - 04-16-2015, 07:09 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Gene C - 04-16-2015, 08:21 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - L Verge - 04-17-2015, 04:25 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Thomas Thorne - 04-17-2015, 02:04 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - L Verge - 04-17-2015, 01:02 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 04-17-2015 03:00 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - L Verge - 04-24-2015, 12:02 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Susan Higginbotham - 04-25-2015, 03:03 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - STS Lincolnite - 04-25-2015, 03:17 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Susan Higginbotham - 04-25-2015, 04:39 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 04-24-2015, 12:36 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - L Verge - 04-24-2015, 01:36 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 04-24-2015, 02:10 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - L Verge - 04-24-2015, 03:31 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Gene C - 04-24-2015, 04:59 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 04-24-2015, 05:14 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - Gene C - 04-25-2015, 06:11 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - RJNorton - 07-28-2015, 09:27 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - richard petersen - 08-04-2015, 09:27 AM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 08-07-2015, 03:00 PM
RE: Fortune's Fool - LincolnToddFan - 08-12-2015, 12:58 PM

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