– The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows by Gabor Boritt
In this engrossing study, Civil War scholar Boritt (editor of The Lincoln Enigma) offers a revealing history of that most famous piece of American oratory, the Gettysburg Address. Boritt opens with an evocative description of a stench-filled, corpse-strewn Gettysburg on July 4, 1863, after the battle. When Lincoln arrived a few months later to dedicate the national cemetery, he had an important task: “to explain to the people,” writes Borritt, in plain, powerful prose, “why the bloodletting must go on.” After vividly recreating the delivery of the address, Boritt discusses the speech’s mixed reception. Republican newspapers praised it; Democrats, viewing it as the beginning of Lincoln’s re-election campaign, belittled or tried to ignore it; one Democratic newspaper called the speech a “mawkish harangue.” Just as bad, Lincoln’s graceful oratory was garbled in transmission to newspapers. Most interesting is Boritt’s recounting of how, after Lincoln’s assassination, the speech was mostly forgotten until the 1880s, when Gettysburg increasingly became a symbol of a reunion between North and South, and the Gettysburg Address took on the sheen of America’s “sacred scriptures.” Lincoln’s poetic language, says Boritt, helps the speech live on, and the message of “sacrificial redemption” still speaks to Americans today. This elegant account will delight readers who enjoyed Garry Wills’s Lincoln at Gettysburg.
– City of Glory: A Novel of War and Desire in Old Manhattan by Beverly Swerling
In this smartly executed, highly entertaining sequel to City of Dreams (2001), Swerling continues tracing the physical, social, and moral development of Manhattan through the stories of the fictional Turner and Devrey families. Nearly all the action occurs over 10 days in mid-August 1814, a critical period during America’s “second war of independence.” The numerous characters, all fascinating and distinct, include a mulatto brothel owner, a sly merchant prince, an Irish ship’s captain, and a devious young widow, not to mention John Jacob Astor himself. At their center is Joyful Patrick Turner, a multilingual trader, businessman, and ex-surgeon who sets out to preserve the family shipping company, save his country from secessionists, and win the hand of Manon Vionne, a jeweler’s lovely daughter, in the bargain. As the characters scheme among themselves, hoping to leave their mark on the growing city, the plot fairly gallops along, and historical-novel fans will relish the bountiful period details of old New York. The perfect antidote for readers who mistakenly believe American history is either boring or unromantic.
– Getting Even: Revenge Stories by Mitzi Szereto (Editor)
If you’ve ever been betrayed, this is the book for you: Getting Even is a collection of stories about passion and the sweetness of revenge. If you need a lesson in love, or the end of love, take a cathartic trip through the murky waters of vengeance with these unsettling stories.
Contributors include Vicki Hendricks, Tony Fennelly, Tara Ison, Jean Lamb, Georgiana Nelson, Madeline de Chambrey, Mitzi Szereto, Becky Bradford, Clare Colvin, Stella Duff y, Chris Dunning, Niall Griffi ths, Rosie Jackson, Josie Kimber, Danuta Reah, Dee Silman, and Uma Sinha.
– Swansea Terminal by Robert Lewis
Alcoholic private eye Robin Llewellyn is homeless in Swansea, another hobo intent on drinking himself into an early grave. But Robin is the perfect patsy, and soon local gangsters have found him a job-one only a chronic alcoholic with nothing to lose would take.
Dark, funny, and oddly poignant, this is new British crime fiction at its very finest.