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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lincoln's hometown as strip mall? [Updated]

Hardly. Or, maybe it is and I'm just too humorless to see it.

I just finished reading The Oregonian's Jack Ohman's review of "Land of Lincoln" by Andrew Ferguson:

The author journeys to Springfield, Ill., a state capital/strip mall that has wrestled with how best to exploit its historic role as The Home of The Great Man Himself. With the creation of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield's debt to Lincoln and its seven-score-and-three-year-long mission to make a buck off his name is lovingly explored. (Emphasis added.)

True. All except the part about strip mall. Did he get that from the book? Or, is it based on his own personal research into our fair town? Or, maybe that's the way the rest of the world perceives us. (Truth be told, I've always suspected something along the lines of the latter.)

And, maybe I do take things, including myself, a little too seriously. I do. I know it. I admit it. So, in an effort to raise my hilarity quotient, I've just ordered the book, which Mr. Ohman describes as, "more of a travelogue that rises to a level of humor." Okay!

In the meantime, if anyone wants to get an idea of what the book is about, there are two excerpts on Slate:

I read 'em, and it didn't occur to me that the author was trying to be humorous.

P.S. I'm really buying the book, which has been on my To Read list since before it came out, because of Mr. Ohman's review. Carry on.

Update 13 July 2007: Well, I am very anxious for this book to arrive as I've just learned I was once acquainted with the author's grandfather, Richard Ferguson. (He has to be the one, I'm assuming.) Very interesting. Also worth mentioning in this context was my closer acquaintance with Charles Bane - someone I consider to have been a much better steward of Lincoln family documents and legacy.

Update 17 July 2007: 29 minute Google Video of Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution interviews Andrew Ferguson. Very interesting. (via John Ruberry)

Posted by Marie at July 8, 2007 11:24 PM


After reading the full review, I'd have to say he is using "strip mall" to illustrate/degregate that Springfield as the whole sale center of Lincoln goods as he follows up with the sentence, "Springfield's debt to Lincoln and its seven-score-and-three-year-long mission to make a buck off his name is lovingly explored."

* I'll have to ask GTG about this one.

Posted by: shoo at July 9, 2007 8:36 AM

In reading the first excerpt from the book, I was slightly put off by the tone Ferguson took towards Lincoln and the museum. His arrogance and condescension are really obnoxious to me. I'm not sure if this is what Ohman is talking about when he is referring to "humor".
I see the reviewer's point that Springpatch definitely tries to make a buck off Lincoln (I get annoyed every time I see "Lincolnshire"), but he's simply taking on the same tone as Ferguson.
I think this would be one of those books Shoo would have to take away from me because I'd get so aggravated.

Posted by: gtg at July 9, 2007 9:02 AM

Yes, you're right, of course. That's what happens when I try to make sense of things late at night.

Posted by: Marie at July 9, 2007 9:04 AM

gtg, I just saw your comment. Interesting take on the excerpt. I'll bet the people at the Museum didn't find too much humor it in.

Posted by: Marie at July 9, 2007 9:10 AM