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BOOK REVIEWS On a Variety of Subjects. By Paul M. Angle. (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society and The Caxton Club, 1974. Pp. vii, 192.) A good historian is also a good writer—an artist—and Paul Angle's last book is testimony to this fact. This is the nineteenth work which Angle wrote, collaborated on or edited during his half-century career , mainly in the Lincoln-Civil War fields. Before his death at 74 on May 11, 1975, Angle personally chose these published selections of his scholarship to offset his acquired stereotype as a Lincoln-Civil War scholar. He had come to believe that some of his best writings were outside those fields and that few had the opportunity to see this demonstrated. "I wanted to demonstrate that I've got a broader range than Lincoln and the Civil War," he declared. His selections were designed to illustrate the breadth and depth of scholarship and to that end were jointly published by the Chicago Historical Society and the Caxton Club of Chicago. The book establishes Angle's interest not only in Lincoln (a subject he mined for over twenty years) and the Civil War but Pilgrims, Parson Weems, Horatio Alger, Jr., Emily Post, John Brown's Body, reminiscences of life in Ohio and in Chicago, the agricultural and industrial development of the Middle West, a short story, strike wars, a hanging, and a memoir about a friend. This potpourri is here because "I like the pieces . . ." and because Hoke Morris edited them, using Angle's own words for the most part. The introduction is an evaluation of Angle's long career, as viewed by himself, and filled with blunt, even sometimes crass, evaluations of everything from reasons for taking research jobs to what is wrong with the field of history today—along with his own perennial jabs at professional historians. Norris suggests that Angle "learned to wheel and deal politically when necessary for appropriations or for getting rid of political jobholders; when not to close the door of his office; how to hang pictures; how to deal with crooks and with scholars [in the same breath?], and more" (p. xi). And the "more" would have been intriguing. Angle's involvement with Abraham Lincoln began in 1925, when he became the executive secretary of the Lincoln Centennial Association . Born in Mansfield, Ohio, Angle did his undergraduate work at Oberlin College and Miami University ("And for God's sake," 349 350CIVIL WAR HISTORY said Angle, "don't say Miami of Ohio. Florida, where the upstart school is located, was still a province of Spain when Miami University was founded.") where he made Phi Beta Kappa in three years and graduated magna cum laude. Angle received a master's degree from the University of Illinois in 1924 which he considered a scholastic waste but which gave him the opportunity "to read a lot of books which I had heard about but never got around to" (p. x). From the Association's headquarters in Springfield, Illinois (later called the Abraham Lincoln Association), Angle prepared a series of books on Lincoln's day-by-day activities of the years 1854, 1858, 1859, and 1860. He provided a compact summary of Lincoln's transition from a lawyer who had put politics behind him to a President appealing to his "dissatisfied fellow-countrymen" not to break up the Union. This work helped correct serious inaccuracies or omissions which had permeated Lincoln biography year after year. It also served to discredit certain documents and letters as forgeries. Twenty-five or thirty years ago, Angle came to the conclusion that "much of the great mass of Lincoln literature was trivial, repetitive , or just plain worthless." He decided to make a selection that would be quite adequate for a public or college library. Published in 1947, this creative job of editing was entitled The Lincoln Reader. Angle permitted sixty-five other authors to develop the unique personality of Lincoln in a moderate length work for the ordinary citizen , and at the same time it became a Lincolniana tour de force for those who specialized in Lincoln as a hobby. The first selection, "The Minor Lincoln Collection: A Criticism," demonstrates an expert...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 349-352
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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