- Abraham Lincoln Without Borders: Lincoln’s Legacy Outside the United States ed. by Jyotirmaya Tripathy, Sura P. Rath, and William D. Pederson
Notwithstanding the massive number of books written about Abraham Lincoln and his impact on the United States, little scholarly attention has been paid to Lincoln’s impact beyond U.S. borders. To begin to rectify the situation, Abraham Lincoln Without Borders: Lincoln’s Legacy Outside the United States offers a collection of brief essays that open a path toward understanding Lincoln’s legacy in other countries. The book grew out of a conference hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India in 2009 to commemorate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. More than three dozen people, mostly Indians and Americans, attended the twoday event to explore their common interest in Lincoln’s legacy abroad. The book’s editors organized the book under review to preserve the record of that conference and to further scholarly interest in Lincoln’s legacy outside the United States.
Book editors Jyotirmaya Tripathy, an associate professor of English at the Indian Institute of Technology, Sura P. Rath, a professor of English at the University of North Texas at Dallas, and William D. Pederson, a professor of Political Science at the Louisiana State University at Shreveport, provide the introduction for the sixteen essays selected for publication. Most of the contributing authors are from India. Peterson, the director of the International Lincoln Center at the State University of Louisiana at Shreveport, and four American graduate students, three of whom are studying with Peterson in the International Lincoln Center, are the American contributors. Although the scholars and students represent a variety of academic disciplines, English dominates. The lone historian, Nishikant Kolge, is an assistant professor at Tripura University in Vallahbh Vidhyanagar, India.
The book is divided into three thematic units: “India in Context” (three chapters); “Lincoln and Gandhi” (five chapters); and “Lincoln Outside India” (eight chapters). The essays in “India in Context” provide the framework for the book. Rath and Pederson contend that Lincoln’s legacy “transcends time, culture and geography and remains a profound, pervasive and permanent influence not only in Asia’s national giants of China, Japan and India, but also in smaller Asian nations including [South] Korea” (p. 17). For [End Page 305] those who have traveled outside the borders of the United States, it is not uncommon to find buildings, towns, streets, and even children named after Lincoln. Rath and Pederson conclude that Lincoln “lighted a beacon of democracy that still shines around the globe to illuminate the way for ancient cultures seeking the path to human equality and dignity” (p. 25). The second unit examines issues related to leadership styles and ideals exhibited by Lincoln and Gandhi. Significantly, both leaders “developed a new moral language of democratic leadership that enabled them to become emancipators”(p. 11).
Whereas the first half of the book is dedicated entirely to India, the second half of the book examines Lincoln’s legacy outside the United States in places other than India. The eight essays examine Lincoln’s legacy in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia; China; South Korea [which is just listed as Korea in the essay’s title]; the Philippines; Australia; Nicaragua; New Zealand; and Trinidad [by examining C.L.R. James]. Five of these chapters were written by graduate students, with David L. Wells writing two case-study chapters: Nicaragua [the most scholarly of the unit’s essays] and the Philippines. While interesting and informative, the chapters were at times superficial and/or lacking in scholarly citation. For example, the ten-page essay on Lincoln’s legacy in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia by Mandakini V. Jha is quite superficial. After stating that one of the “most interesting Lincoln phenomena in southern Asia, perhaps in all Asia, is the founding of the Lincoln College” in Malaysia, the author devotes less than one page to Malaysia and says virtually nothing about the college (p. 135).
Abraham Lincoln Without Borders: Lincoln’s Legacy...