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All Lincoln all the time

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Tried by War Lincoln and His Admirals

Civil War scholars James McPherson and Craig L. Symonds have been named winners of the Lincoln Prize, organizers announced today, the 200th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln's birth.

McPherson, who previously won the prize in 1998 for For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, was cited for Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (Penguin, $35). Symonds was cited for Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War (Oxford University Press, $27.95).

The two authors will share the $50,000 cash award.

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And speaking of Lincoln, no less than 30 Lincoln-related titles have come through the Book Room in the past few months. We can't cover them all in the Sunday Books pages -- though check them out this Sunday, because it's all about Lincoln this week -- so I've listed a bunch more here:

In Lincoln's Hand Lincoln Shot Lincoln's Men A. Lincoln Mrs. Lincoln Race & Slavery 1864 Gettysburg Extraordinary Era

In Lincoln's Hand: His Original Manuscripts, edited by Harold Holzer and Joshua Wolf Shenk (Bantam, 196 pages, $35): Check out facsimilies of Lincoln's handwritten letters, speeches and childhood notebooks in this companion volume to the LIbrary of Congress 2009 Bicentennial Exhibition.

Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered, researched, written, illustrated, and designed by The National News staff (Feiwel and Friends, 40 pages, $24.95): The oversize pages of this book evoke a newspaper from the mid-1800s, to illustrate a memorial edition one year after Lincoln's assassination. All aspects of newspaper design, including typefaces and advertisements, have been exacted to evoke the era.

Lincoln's Men: The President and His Private Secretaries, by Daniel Mark Epstein (Collins, 244 pages, $26.99): Epstein, an award-winning Lincoln biographer, offers the first narrative portrait of the three men -- John Nicolay, John Hay and William Stoddard -- who knew the 16th president better than anyone outside his immediate family.

A. Lincoln: A Biography, by Ronald C. White Jr. (Random House, 679 pages, $35): After researching the newly complete Lincoln Legal Papers, as well as recently discovered letters and photographs, the author decided to focus on Lincoln as a man of integrity, whose moral evolution holds the key to understanding his life.

Mrs. Lincoln: A Life, by Catherine Clinton (Harper, 336 pages, $26.99): The first biography of Mary Todd Lincoln in more than 20 years puts a human face on one of the most notorious and possibly misunderstood first ladies in American history.

Lincoln on Race & Slavery, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Princeton, 328 pages, $24.95): The contradictory nature of Abraham Lincoln's views on race are debated here, through his own words. Readers can sift through his writings from the late 1830s to the 1860s, and draw their own conclusions.

1864: Lincoln at the Gates of HIstory, by Charles Bracelen Flood (Simon & Schuster, 434 pages, $30): HIstorian and novelist Flood asserts that Lincoln was more activist than passive president, a shrewd politician and commander in chief who firmly seized control of the nation's destiny at its most critical moments.

Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel, by C.M. Butzer (Collins, 80 pages, $9.99, ages 9-14): Lincoln's most famous speech is detailed in comic-book style here, alongside depictions of related historical events before and after the speech.

Abraham Lincoln's Extraordinary Era: The Man and His Times, by K.M. Kostyal (National Geographic, 215 pages, $35): This is the official book of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, offering up stories, anecdotes and never-before-seen images and artifacts from the museum's vault.

Olympic fever

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If you're looking to multitask while watching the Olympics over the next couple of weeks, check out Pulitzer Prize-winner David Maraniss' latest book, Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World (Simon & Schuster, 486 pages, $26.95). It was the year of Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph and Rafer Johnson. It was the year the Cold War heated up. And it was the year doping scandals became exposed.


Read the Sun-Times' review of Rome 1960, plus a review of a couple of Olympics-themed children's books.

And if that isn't enough, Phil Ponce spoke to Maraniss recently on WTTW-Channel 11's Chicago Tonight.

Military historian Allan R. Millett will receive the Pritzker Military Library's 2008 Literature Award for Lifetime Acheivement. Millett will receive the $100,000 prize at the library's annual Liberty Gala on Oct. 4 at the Drake Hotel.

"The selection committee has honored an in dividual whose life's work in the area of understanding and wirting about military history is at the highest scholarly level," said James N. Pritzker, the library's founder and president. "Allan Millett's written work, teaching and other pursuits have educated and informed us all in a most profound way."

Allan Millett
Allan R. Millett

Millett's books include Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps; The Politics of Intervention: The Military Occupation of Cuba, 1906-1909; The General: Robert L. Bullard and Officership in the United States Army, and In Many a Strife: General Gerald C. Thomas and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Millett, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, had this to say about the Pritzker award: "The award is especially satisfying since it is decided by a group of distinguished historians. I share this honor with my two co-authors, Peter Maslowski and Williamson Murray, and with our loyal legion of graduate students at the Ohio State University."

Greed, intrigue, Lawrence of Arabia

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T.E. Lawrence told his version of the Arab revolt, building the legend of Lawrence of Arabia and the intrigue of that time.

In Setting the Desert on Fire: T.E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 (W.W. Norton & Company, 352 pages, $27.95), James Barr tells a wider but no less fascinating tale of the revolt and the present-day consequences for the Middle East.

Setting the Desert on Fire

The Turks jumped into World War I on the side of Germany. Their leader declared jihad against the British and their allies. The Turks had controlled much of the Middle East and North Africa for 400 years and expected the Arabs to follow their lead.

Instead, Sharif Hussein, ruler of Mecca, used the moment as an opportunity to curry favor with the British. Hussein wanted more than good will, however, he had a list of demands that he presented to British commissioner Henry McMahon. McMahon in turn assured Hussein that in return for their aid, the British would make sure the Arabs were independent and grant them land stretching across much of the modern middle east.

In Setting the Desert on Fire, Barr shows it was a lie that brought disastrous effects that are still resonating today.

Black history put in modern perspective

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Stanford law professor Richard Thompson Ford takes on a hot-button topic during Black History Month. The press release in his new book, The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 388 pages, $26), poses the question: "What do Katrina victims waiting for federal disaster relief, millionaire rappers buying vintage champagne, Ivy League professors waiting for taxis, and ghetto hustlers trying to find steady work have in common? All have claimed to victims of racism."

The Race Card

Here's a review from the Associated Press:

President's Day hair check

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Which president in history had the best hair? Certainly John F. Kennedy had good hair. Ronald Reagan and BIll Clinton, too. There are others throughout history, but who am I to judge what was in style from before I was born?

The aforementioned former presidents were all handsome as well, which does not always go hand-in-hand with good hair.

Why does any of this matter, you ask? It shouldn't matter, but appearance can make or break a candidate, and Ben Shapiro examines this subject in his book, Project President: Bad Hair & Botox on the Road to the White House (Thomas Nelson, 304 pages, $22.99).

Project President

Here's what Shapiro concludes about the father of our country: "Today's media would have savaged Washington. [He] would have faced scrutiny over his lavish spending habits, questionable military tactics, gold-digging and his cold austerity, though he would have gained points for keeping his hair."

Shapiro even got Tim Gunn, the fashion guru of Bravo's "Project Runway," to blurb the book: "I'm constantly citing the power of dress. It's semiology: our clothes send a message about how we want to be perceived, and where is this more powerful and evident than in elected offices. In Project President, Ben Shapiro captures presidential semiotics with a potent narrative and deft analysis. It's simultaneously fascinating and hilarious!"

Though Shapiro's book is already a little out of date — he scrutinizes some candidates that are no longer running for the presidential nomination — it's still fun reading.

Here's a review from the Associated Press...

All Lincoln All the Time

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In today's print edition of the Sun-Times, we dedicated all our Books space to the subject of Abraham Lincoln. You would think that all that could be written about our nation's 16th president has been written. Not so.

John Barron states in his review of President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman by William Lee Miller that "Lincoln always emerges as the year's freshest most appealing character. Any year." (Click here to read full review)

With that in mind we've seized upon the passion of many of the historians who've written about Honest Abe recently ...

Hearts and flowers through the ages

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Ah, Valentine's Day. The primping, the pressure, the proposals! Today we take a look back through history at some lovers' correspondence, specifically that which dealt in marriage proposals.

Will You Marry Me? Seven Centuries of Love (Touchstone Books, 112 pages, $14.95) was originally published in 1940. Perhaps this newly bound reissue will inspire Internet-age folks to take paper to pen and snail-mail a little romance to their loved ones.

Will You Marry Me?

Here's a smattering of smitten folks' marriage-minded missives...

A hero ain't just a sandwich

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What constitutes a good hero? Someone brave and loyal, sure, but how about folks who throw good parties? Author-historian Paul Johnson casts a wide net and includes both in his new book, Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and De Gaulle (HarperCollins, 284 pages, $25.95).


There are a couple chapters dedicated to female heroes in particular ("Feminist Fire and Slaughter," Tortured Heroism in a Man's World"), but I like the fact that Johnson includes women all over this book, not favoring either gender in other chapters, such as, "Exemplary Heroes."

Woman power

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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) follows up her bestselling book American Heroines with Leading Ladies: American Trailblazers (Harper, 365 pages, $25.95), another excellent collection of biographical portraits of women who've paved the way for the rest of us, in all walks of life...

Leading Ladies

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