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Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
03-19-2022, 01:38 PM
Post: #1
Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
compiled and edited by Emanuel Hertz and printed in 1939

Hertz takes a slightly different approach to this collection of 1,000 stories about Lincoln. In the introduction Hertz states
"But this work, too, is a biography, though not in the ordinary sense. It pretends to be no more than a kaleidoscopic presentation of a thousand and one living incidents in Lincoln's career, told by a thousand eyewitnesses. Precisely, however, because each anecdote has come to us refracted through a different point of view, hope that in their totality all personal equations will have canceled one another out, "corrected" each other, as the scientists say; and that thus we may possibly approach closer to an objective portrait of Lincoln than we could have done by following the guidance of any one man.

Each of these contemporaries naturally treasured his rare moment of contact with Lincoln; I feel, therefore, that their combined testimony offers an opportunity for the expression of as fresh,spontaneous, and urgent a vitality as any one writer might be expected to maintain.

...as I have already indicated, the richest source of these materials, which I have been collecting for twenty years, has been the contemporary press. Here for a host of people was set down their single claim to the attention of posterity—they had talked with Lincoln! And here, as a consequence,we find an incomparable picture of Lincoln in action—wheedling juries, receiving delegations, granting pardons, turning away office- seekers, placating his wife, thinking out loud about national problems, quarreling with his secretaries, correcting his children, being wise or witty, indignant or peace-loving. Here Lincoln smiles and weeps, and talks.


A noble objective, but in these short (many less than a page long) remembrances are several which seem to have no point to them at all, just a personal contact with Lincoln that they treasured because it happened to them. That made it special and they felt it was worth repeating.

Hertz didn't seem to feel accuracy was important in these stories, he just copied what others had written down. In doing so, he has recorded incidences, real, imagined or exaggerated, that add to the mystery and legend of Lincoln. At over 650 pages of text, for me there is too much here. As a result of all this, I can't recommend this book. There are several other collections of short stories about Lincoln that I think are better. After several months I still haven't finished reading it. It's to easy to put this book down and pick it back up if you just want to read a page or two. I've read over 500 pages. It's unlikely I will pick this up again and try to read it cover to cover.

I don't regret purchasing this book (used, very good, for $5.48) Several short stories I've made a note of and will share with you.
It's also available on Internet Archive
https://archive.org/details/lincolntalks...3/mode/2up

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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03-19-2022, 02:20 PM
Post: #2
RE: Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
Gene (and others)

Emanuel Hertz is, without a doubt, the WORST Lincoln chronicler there is. To steal a line from "The Beverly Hillbillies," Hertz was so dishonest he had to get someone else to call his dog. I don't know if Hertz set out to be purposely dishonest or was just a careless researcher (probably some of both), but his reputation among Lincoln scholars (real ones) was horrendous. Carl Sandburg called him a "known reprobate" and he gave Ida Tarbell fits as well. Do yourself a favor. Leave Hertz where he belongs.. in the gutter.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell

I want the respect of intelligent men, but I will choose for myself the intelligent.
--Carl Sandburg
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03-19-2022, 02:31 PM
Post: #3
RE: Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
(03-19-2022 01:38 PM)Gene C Wrote:  Hertz didn't seem to feel accuracy was important in these stories

(03-19-2022 02:20 PM)Rob Wick Wrote:  I don't know if Hertz set out to be purposely dishonest or was just a careless researcher (probably some of both)

IMO you both nailed it. Paul Angle, for example, called Hertz' work "fraudulent" and "worse than useless."
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03-20-2022, 02:42 PM
Post: #4
RE: Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
(03-19-2022 02:31 PM)RJNorton Wrote:  
(03-19-2022 01:38 PM)Gene C Wrote:  Hertz didn't seem to feel accuracy was important in these stories

(03-19-2022 02:20 PM)Rob Wick Wrote:  I don't know if Hertz set out to be purposely dishonest or was just a careless researcher (probably some of both)

IMO you both nailed it. Paul Angle, for example, called Hertz' work "fraudulent" and "worse than useless."

I second Roger. Here's an example that speaks to both. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/abraha...-prophecy/
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03-23-2022, 09:23 AM (This post was last modified: 03-23-2022 09:26 AM by David Lockmiller.)
Post: #5
RE: Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
(03-19-2022 02:20 PM)Rob Wick Wrote:  Gene (and others)

Emanuel Hertz is, without a doubt, the WORST Lincoln chronicler there is. To steal a line from "The Beverly Hillbillies," Hertz was so dishonest he had to get someone else to call his dog. I don't know if Hertz set out to be purposely dishonest or was just a careless researcher (probably some of both), but his reputation among Lincoln scholars (real ones) was horrendous. Carl Sandburg called him a "known reprobate" and he gave Ida Tarbell fits as well. Do yourself a favor. Leave Hertz where he belongs.. in the gutter.

Best
Rob

"Hertz was so dishonest he had to get someone else to call his dog."

Now, that is a classic line! At best, Hertz was an incomparably careless researcher.

(03-19-2022 02:31 PM)RJNorton Wrote:  Paul Angle . . . called Hertz' work . . . "worse than useless."

I agree with Paul Angle and Roger.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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03-25-2022, 10:46 AM
Post: #6
RE: Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
But the story of the pet pig was heart wrenching.
Was there nothing to it, just make-believe?
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03-25-2022, 11:25 AM
Post: #7
RE: Lincoln Talks - An Oral Biography
Amy, I tried to track the story down. Hertz' source is The Speaking Oak by Frederick C. Iglehart. Iglehart got the story from a Springfield typesetter named Gilbert J. Greene. In Recollected Words, the Fehrenbachers carried one story by Greene and gave it a "D." The story they carried is not the sad pig story you asked about. Assuming the Fehrenbachers would also give Greene's pig story a "D' that would mean the story is "a Lincoln quotation about whose authenticity there is more than average doubt." I will keep looking, but my best guess is that there exists some doubt about the veracity of the story.

Here is the pig story Amy referenced:

https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com...-and-pigs/

(the pig story is in blue ink on that web page)
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