- Book Notes
Lincoln before Lincoln: Early Cinematic Adaptations of the Life of America’s Greatest President. By Brian J. Snee. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2016. Pp. x, 155. $40.00 cloth; $40.00 ebook)
Moviegoers have been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln almost since the dawn of the film era, and Brian J. Snee provides a thorough overview of the various ways Lincoln was interpreted on screen prior to Steven Spielberg’s 2012 blockbuster. Focusing on major films and television miniseries, from The Birth of a Nation (1915) to Lincoln [End Page 308] (2012), Snee demonstrates the ways in which portrayals of the sixteenth president have reflected the era of their creation and contributed to our popular image of the man. Lincoln before Lincoln is an interesting read on the intersections of history and popular culture.
Wolford’s Cavalry: The Colonel, the War in the West, and the Emancipation Question in Kentucky. By Dan Lee. (Lincoln, Neb.: Potomac Books, 2016. Pp. xiii, 289. $34.95 cloth)
This military biography of Colonel Frank Wolford, who commanded a regiment in the Union army before his dishonorable discharge due to his treasonous response to the Emancipation Proclamation, suggests the complicated realities of Civil War–era Kentucky. Wolford was willing to fight to preserve the Union, yet he was disgusted by the prospect of African American emancipation and service in the Union army. His outspoken denunciation of President Abraham Lincoln led to his repeated arrest and almost saw him exiled to the Confederacy, yet he parlayed that notoriety into political and social success after the war. Subsequent generations have been less kind to the memory of the intransigent racist who opposed the martyred Lincoln, but Lee’s biography restores some of the complexity of Wolford’s life. [End Page 309]