Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 2008 - Social Science - 384 pages
0 Reviews
By the 1920s, Abraham Lincoln had transcended the lingering controversies of the Civil War to become a secular saint, honored in North and South alike for his steadfast leadership in crisis. Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, Lincoln was invoked countless times as a reminder of America’s strength and wisdom, a commanding ideal against which weary citizens could see their own hardships in perspective.   But as Barry Schwartz reveals in Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era, those years represent the apogee of Lincoln’s prestige. The decades following World War II brought radical changes to American culture, changes that led to the diminishing of all heroes—Lincoln not least among them. As Schwartz explains, growing sympathy for the plight of racial minorities, disenchantment with the American state, the lessening of patriotism in the wake of the Vietnam War, and an intensifying celebration of diversity, all contributed to a culture in which neither Lincoln nor any single person could be a heroic symbol for all Americans. Paradoxically, however, the very culture that made Lincoln an object of indifference, questioning, criticism, and even ridicule was a culture of unprecedented beneficence and inclusion, where racial, ethnic, and religious groups treated one another more fairly and justly than ever before. Thus, as the prestige of the Great Emancipator shrank, his legacy of equality continued to flourish.   Drawing on a stunning range of sources—including films, cartoons, advertisements, surveys, shrine visitations, public commemorations, and more—Schwartz documents the decline of Lincoln’s public standing, asking throughout whether there is any path back from this post-heroic era. Can a new generation of Americans embrace again their epic past, including great leaders whom they know to be flawed?  As the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial approaches, readers will discover here a stirring reminder that Lincoln, as a man, still has much to say to us—about our past, our present, and our possible futures.
 
 

What people are saying - Write a review

Abraham Lincoln in the post-heroic era: history and memory in late twentieth-century America

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Schwartz (sociology, emeritus, Univ. of Georgia) continues his investigation of Lincoln's place in American memory and meaning with this second volume in his projected three-volume study. Here he ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Lincoln in the Great Depression
20
Lincoln in the Second World War
59
Cold War Racial Conflict and Contested Images of Lincoln
91
Civil Rights Movement Vanishing Savior of the Union
115
Fading Prestige Benign Ridicule
146
Acids of Equality and the Waning of Greatness
180
The Enduring Lincoln
219
Conclusion
254
Appendices AK
269
Notes
305
Index
371
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)


Barry Schwartzis professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Georgia and the author of five books, including Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of National Memory, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Bibliographic information