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A change in plans
04-27-2022, 10:15 PM (This post was last modified: 04-27-2022 10:17 PM by Rob Wick.)
Post: #1
A change in plans
Hello all.

Just wanted to let you know about a new direction I'm headed in. As many of you might know, I have been trying to put together a book on Ida Tarbell's study of Abraham Lincoln. I've done considerable research over the past few years, and I have actually written a few things. However, as I've collected more and more material I kept feeling like much of it was going to be wasted. Some of it didn't even fit within the parameters I set for myself. So, I put aside the Lincoln book and started putting together a plan to do an annotated bibliography of Tarbell's writing as well as writings about her. To date, I have found over 600 articles written by Tarbell and well over 750 unique articles about her.

A nagging thought kept bothering me, though. Who could I approach when it came time to submit it to a publisher? Obviously, it would have to be a university press. I sought the advice of forum member Tom Bogar as well as a gentleman by the name of Eric Sandweiss, who is the editor of the Indiana Magazine of History, where in 2018 I published an article about Tarbell and Lincoln's view of democracy. Neither Tom nor Eric were very optimistic that I could find a press interested in publishing the work, which after the amount of time I've put into it would be not only a waste of my time but of some money as well.

In his response, Eric suggested that I consider a full-scale biography of Tarbell, using the material that I've found and taking a fresh approach to her life, covering not only her work on Lincoln but all other aspects of her story. At first, I demurred, given that Kathleen Brady has written a perfectly good biography of Tarbell. However, Joe Di Cola, another forum member, noted that it had been almost 40 years since Kathy's book was published. Although it's still available through the University of Pittsburgh Press, there are some shortcomings. Kathy told me that she would do some things differently if she had the opportunity to rewrite her book. The main thing is that she would have done more with Tarbell and Lincoln.

As I continued to consider Eric's suggestion, I sought out the advice of some forum members along with others who are familiar with my work. I have to say that not everyone felt I would be doing the right thing. The sheer honesty of those friends was a good thing, however, because it made me rethink my own motivation. There are numerous things about Tarbell that are known, but many things that have been lost to history. Many of the articles I've uncovered have never been seen since they were originally published. But the biggest thing is the realization that I would not be trying to supersede Kathy's book, but rather adding to the work she's already done and (hopefully) making it relevant to a new generation of readers. To be sure, not everyone interested in history would be interested in this book, but this year alone there have been two new biographies of Buster Keaton published, and I never saw a clamoring from the public begging that a new biography, let alone two, be published.

To make a long story short, I have decided to attempt to write a new biography of Tarbell. My working title is Miss Tarbell: Literary Adventures of a Progressive Enigma. Most people, either friends or strangers, referred to her as Miss Tarbell. The subtitle will show the book to be a history of her writing combined with an attempt to place her both personally and professionally into the Progressive milieu. Finally, Tarbell and her sister destroyed much of her personal material before Tarbell died in 1944, placing anyone who attempts to write a biography that covers more than her working life on a difficult path. Without going into too much detail, I have found material that, while not ignored by previous writers, hasn't been given the proper perspective I feel it should be given.

Even though I've done considerable research, there is much more I have to do before I can attempt to write. I have to expand my research from Tarbell and Lincoln to Tarbell and, well, everyone.

I have to admit I still am facing this with some trepidation. I have a vigorous habit of beginning projects but never finishing them. However, I never gave up on the Tarbell/Lincoln work, but rather started in another direction based on the material I found. Much of what I would put into the Tarbell/Lincoln will be transferred to this new work, and what doesn't fit will either be placed into an article or quietly forgotten. I will be 60 in another year and a half, and before my time expires, I want to have something completed that will forever link my name to the subject we are all here to study. In other words, this, I hope, will be my contribution to the study of Lincoln, even if in a tangential way.

I have no set deadline for getting it finished. I have enough material on her early life that I think I will be able to start that first chapter in a few weeks. My early plans call for separating the book into four sections, each section containing four or five chapters, based chronologically. For example, the first chapter will be from her birth in 1857 up to her graduation from high school in Titusville, Pa., in 1876. As I go further along I will keep everyone informed as to my progress.

Wish me luck!

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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04-27-2022, 11:00 PM
Post: #2
RE: A change in plans
I'm sure we all wish you luck , Rob.
I especially picked up when I read "I have a vigorous habit of beginning projects but never finishing them."
Just today I withdrew from a French Language course run by a local community group. I kept telling myself that one cannot learn a new language by osmosis ... you simply do have to put in the effort. But I now realise that the "effort" that I was willing to put in just didnt equate to what was needed. I am though persisting with German.

I recall being advised that when reading a new book its a good idea to subtract your age from a 100. If you're ,say, 65 then you have 35.
And that's the number of pages you should read ... if after page 35 you're not enjoying the book then just "give it away". Life's too short to persist in doing something you're not enjoying.

As for a 'new' Tarbell biography, dont sell yourself short. There's always room for new aspects which provide different opinions on events and controversial figures.

“The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that” Robert Burns
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04-28-2022, 06:26 AM
Post: #3
RE: A change in plans
Good Luck, Rob! I think writing a biography of Tarbell is a good idea, especially with an author as knowledgeable of her as you at the helm.
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04-28-2022, 07:03 AM
Post: #4
RE: A change in plans
Good luck on the project, Rob!
I would like to ask, would a comparison of Tarbell's and Lincoln's views on Democracy be unappealing? I know nothing about publishing, but as a consumer, I would find the topic interesting...

Democracy seems like a contemporary, moving topic. Not everyone likes Thomas Friedman, but I see his opinion piece quoted:

"So here’s my bottom line: Several years ago, a Hebrew biography of Ariel Sharon was published with the title “He Doesn’t Stop at Red Lights.” It is a fitting title for our times, too. What is so unnerving to me about the state of the world today are the number of leaders ready to shamelessly, in broad daylight — and with a sense of utter impunity — drive through red lights. That is, to drive through the legal and normative gates that have kept the world relatively peaceful over the last 70 years, during which we had no great power wars, and have enabled more people to emerge from extreme poverty faster than at any other era in history.

"We will miss this if it ends. ... And it is necessary that we make sure that Putin’s quest to find dignity by crushing that Ukrainian freedom movement fails.

"But none of that is sufficient if all those politicians in America who also think that they can run through any red light to gain or hold power succeed. Who will follow our model then?

"I can’t think of another time in my life when I felt the future of America’s democracy and the future of democracy globally were more in doubt. And don’t kid yourself; they are intertwined. And don’t kid yourself; they both can still go either way."
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04-28-2022, 09:51 AM
Post: #5
RE: A change in plans
(04-28-2022 07:03 AM)Amy L. Wrote:  I would like to ask, would a comparison of Tarbell's and Lincoln's views on Democracy be unappealing? I know nothing about publishing, but as a consumer, I would find the topic interesting...

Personally, I wouldn't find it unappealing either (hence my writing the article), but getting a publisher to think that is the question. By the way, I have attached the manuscript copy of my article for anyone to read. I used that instead of the published version because there were some errors the journal made in the editing that I did not catch. This has the footnotes and everything that I included.

I appreciate all the comments!

Best
Rob


Attached File(s)
.docx  Tarbell's Study of Lincoln in Indiana Final Edit.docx (Size: 53.3 KB / Downloads: 2)

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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04-28-2022, 01:20 PM
Post: #6
RE: A change in plans
(04-28-2022 07:03 AM)Amy L. Wrote:  Good luck on the project, Rob!
I would like to ask, would a comparison of Tarbell's and Lincoln's views on Democracy be unappealing? I know nothing about publishing, but as a consumer, I would find the topic interesting...

Democracy seems like a contemporary, moving topic. Not everyone likes Thomas Friedman, but I see his opinion piece quoted:

"So here’s my bottom line: Several years ago, a Hebrew biography of Ariel Sharon was published with the title “He Doesn’t Stop at Red Lights.” It is a fitting title for our times, too. What is so unnerving to me about the state of the world today are the number of leaders ready to shamelessly, in broad daylight — and with a sense of utter impunity — drive through red lights. That is, to drive through the legal and normative gates that have kept the world relatively peaceful over the last 70 years, during which we had no great power wars, and have enabled more people to emerge from extreme poverty faster than at any other era in history.

"We will miss this if it ends. ... And it is necessary that we make sure that Putin’s quest to find dignity by crushing that Ukrainian freedom movement fails.

"But none of that is sufficient if all those politicians in America who also think that they can run through any red light to gain or hold power succeed. Who will follow our model then?

"I can’t think of another time in my life when I felt the future of America’s democracy and the future of democracy globally were more in doubt. And don’t kid yourself; they are intertwined. And don’t kid yourself; they both can still go either way."

Putin ran this same play before in Syria. But the "democracy" portion of the world did not complain loudly enough and long enough. Putin even used poison gases there, indiscriminately. In both wars, he has mercilessly attacked the civilian population and even hospitals. If the the "democracy" portion of the world had protested as much while Putin was destroying the civilian population of Syria, there would have been no Ukraine invasion (in my opinion).

If Putin succeeds in Ukraine, a majority (or a major portion) of the world's wheat supply (Russia and Ukraine) will be controlled by Putin. Food is the world's new product of critical importance (replacing oil) as the world climate damages increase and millions more people go hungry.

And, one other negative outcome is the fact that Putin's counterpart in China (Xi Jinping) will see the pattern for successful conquest of Taiwan. Will the United States risk nuclear war to protect Taiwan?

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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04-28-2022, 09:17 PM
Post: #7
RE: A change in plans
I would think there would be a market for it, even among commercial publishers. There is a lot of interest in women's history.

Are you familiar with this book? I haven't read it but it shouldn't discourage you from writing your own. Biographies tend to breed other biographies.

https://www.amazon.com/Citizen-Reporters...006279664X
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04-28-2022, 10:33 PM
Post: #8
RE: A change in plans
Susan,

I have indeed read Gorton's book. I wrote a review of it (really for myself since I know of no places that will accept reviews not commissioned), which you can read.

I agree that Tarbell's story would interest a commercial publisher (Kathleen Brady's book was first published by Putnam before they let it go out of print).

Best
Rob


Attached File(s)
.docx  Review of Gorton.docx (Size: 15.72 KB / Downloads: 0)

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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04-29-2022, 06:34 AM
Post: #9
RE: A change in plans
(04-28-2022 06:26 AM)Steve Wrote:  Good Luck, Rob! I think writing a biography of Tarbell is a good idea, especially with an author as knowledgeable of her as you at the helm.
I second Steve! Good luck and good success, Rob!
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04-29-2022, 08:35 AM
Post: #10
RE: A change in plans
Yes, Like others- I wish you all the luck on your work and look forward to the final result. I do expect an autographed copy. Lol

Bill Nash
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05-03-2022, 07:00 AM
Post: #11
RE: A change in plans
Just to say, I read (and will re-read) "Ida M. Tarbell and Indiana’s role in the development of Abraham Lincoln’s view of democracy," and enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing, Rob!

Perhaps this could be a solid chapter-in-development for the book?

Lincoln didn’t read John Locke, correct? Only the ideas as they were digested by T. Jefferson & Co.? (The Founders had to read it in French?)
“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it.” - John Locke
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05-04-2022, 08:13 PM
Post: #12
RE: A change in plans
(05-03-2022 07:00 AM)Amy L. Wrote:  Just to say, I read (and will re-read) "Ida M. Tarbell and Indiana’s role in the development of Abraham Lincoln’s view of democracy," and enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing, Rob!

Perhaps this could be a solid chapter-in-development for the book?

Lincoln didn’t read John Locke, correct? Only the ideas as they were digested by T. Jefferson & Co.? (The Founders had to read it in French?)
“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it.” - John Locke

Thanks for the kind words Amy. Pieces of that will definitely end up in the book. To the best of my knowledge, Lincoln never read Locke.

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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05-05-2022, 12:19 AM
Post: #13
RE: A change in plans
I'm not aware of Lincoln reading John Locke. He did though have a photo of John Bright at the White House.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/20...lationship


https://www.libertarianism.org/publicati...ohn-bright

“The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that” Robert Burns
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05-05-2022, 01:09 AM
Post: #14
RE: A change in plans
Rob, good luck on your project!

"The past is a foreign country; they do things
differently there"
---- Leslie Poles Hartley
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