Today, Abraham Lincoln is a beloved American icon, widely considered to be our best president. It was not always so. Larry Tagg’s The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln is the first study of its kind to concentrate on what Lincoln’s contemporaries actually thought of him during his lifetime. Be forewarned: your preconceived notions are about to be shattered.
Torn by civil war, the era in which our sixteenth president lived and governed was the most rough-and-tumble in the history of American politics. The violence of the criticism aimed at Lincoln by the great men of his time on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line is simply startling. Indeed, the breadth and depth of the spectacular prejudice against him is often shocking for its cruelty, intensity, and unrelenting vigor. The plain truth is that Mr. Lincoln was deeply reviled by many who knew him personally, and by hundreds of thousands who only knew of him.
Boisterous and venomous enough to be good entertainment, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln rests upon a wide foundation of research that includes years of searching through contemporary newspapers. Tagg includes extensive treatment of the political context that begat Lincoln’s predicament, riding with the president to Washington, and walking with him through the bleak years of war and up to and beyond assassination. Throughout, Tagg entertains with a lively writing style, outstanding storytelling verve, and an unconventional, against-the-grain perspective that is sure to delight readers of all stripes.
Lincoln’s humanity has been unintentionally trivialized by some historians and writers who have hidden away the real man in a patina of bronze. Once readers learn the truth of how others viewed him, they will better understand the man he was, and how history is better viewed through a long-distance lens than contemporaneously.
The bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth will be celebrated in 2009 and will be the biggest year ever for public interest in Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission created and funded by Congress will “inform the public about the impact Abraham Lincoln had on the development of our nation.” The year will also witness the release of Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited movie on President Lincoln. Of all the Lincoln books slated for publication, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln will be the “must-read” title for general readers and scholars alike.
Born in Lincoln, Illinois, Larry Tagg graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. A bass player/singer of world renown, Larry co-founded and enjoyed substantial commercial success with “Bourgeois Tagg” in the mid-1980s. He went on to play bass for Todd Rundgren, Heart, Hall and Oates, and other acts. He taught high school English and drama in Sacramento, California. Larry is the author of the bestselling book The Generals of Gettysburg, a selection of the Military Book Club, and The Battles That Made Abraham Lincoln.