February 21, 2015
Blogging for Books: Lincoln in the World
I took a lot of history classes in college. They always involved a textbook of some kind and then a bunch of other books the professor deemed important. I always wondered what it would be like to be a professor and get to choose the books that those broke college students "had" to buy. Did you read your college textbooks? I didn't. I had the best of intentions. I always bought the books. I rarely read them. Taking good notes on the lectures, I found, was the key to success.
All of this to say that Lincoln in the World read like one of those books a history professor would tell you to read, but you never actually got around to reading it. I'm a certified social studies teacher in two states, and I fancy myself as someone who knows a lot about American history. I liked the movie Lincoln. And I know a lot about William Seward after my time spent teaching Alaska history. And one of the very first non-fiction books I ever remember reading was about Lincoln, when I was about 6. Also, I read that Lincoln/vampire book and actually really liked it.
But I didn't get into this book. It was full of information, yes, but wasn't pleasure-reading in any way. It was kind of a compilation of other authors' books on Lincoln instead of one person's opinion on how Lincoln helped to make the U.S. a world power. In my personal opinion, there is nothing more boring than studying foreign policy. The only interesting foreign policy I've ever come across was the build-up to World War II. I just have this picture in my head of the U.S. being very isolated during its first 200 years. You don't hear a lot of foreign policy between the Revolutionary War and World War I. Weren't we busy with other things? Going to war with ourselves and Reconstruction and all that. While 19th century American history is interesting (hello, Little House on the Prairie), this book wasn't to me.
I didn't make it through the book. I skipped a couple of chapters here and there and...sorry, Blogging for Books. I wanted to like it. I just didn't.