President Lincoln Assassinated!! -- The Firsthand Story of the Murder, Manhunt, Trial, and Mourning, compiled and introduced by Harold Holzer, The Library of America '14, $29.95, 446 pages, ASIN #1598533738. Index, sources, chronology, grouping of b&w and color images, other b&w images sprinkled through text.
"Shortly before he fell victim to an assassin's bullet, a spectrally haggard, sleep-deprived Abraham Lincoln had a portentous dream -- or so his longtime friend and aide, Ward Hill Lamon, later remembered," writes author and long-time Lincoln authority Harold Holzer in his latest book.
"Not until ten days after was the President ready to unburden himself by sharing the details of his haunting nightmare. And then he told not only Lamon, but also his chronically anxious wife, Mary -- even though he insisted that he did not believe in dreams and urged his listeners to take no need, either.
"Awakened from a deep slumber by the sound of 'subdued' sobs,' as Lincoln began his recollection, he dreamt that he left his bed to prowl the empty White House in search of the source of the commotion. Slowly he headed downstairs alone, greeted only by the ever louder 'mournful sounds' of 'pitiful sobbing.' Finally reaching the East Room, he came face-to-face with what he called a 'sickening surprise.'
"Before me was a catafalque,' Loncoln told his enthralled listeners,' on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments' and encircled by military guards and 'a throng' of tearful mourners. 'Who is dead in the White House?' Lincoln recalled demanding of one of the soldiers. 'The President,' came the sad reply; he was killed by an assassin!' A 'loud burst of grief from the crowd' then woke the dreamer from his slumber. Quoting Hamlet, Lincoln admitted, 'I slept no more that night,' for 'to sleep' was 'perchance to dream.'
Author Harold Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited more than 40 books, mostly on Abraham Lincoln, including The Lincoln Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Legacy from 1860 to Now. The proceeds from the sales of this book will be used to support the mission of The Library of America.
The Shadow of the Past -- Reputation and Military Alliances Before the First World War by Gregory D. Miller, Cornell UPress '11, $45, 248 pages, ASIN #0801450314. Index, five appendices, b&w images sprinkled through text, footnotes.
From the dust jacket:
"In The Shadow of the Past, Gregory D. Miller examines the role that reputation plays in international politics, emphasizing the importance of reliability -- confidence that, based on past political actions, a country will make good on its promises -- in the formation of military alliances. Challenging recent scholarship that focuses on the importance of credibility -- a state's reputation for following through on its threats -- Miller finds that reliable states have much greater freedom in forming alliances than those that invest resources in building military force but then use it inconsistently.
"To explore the formation and maintenance of alliances based on reputation, Miller draws on insights from both political science and business theory to track the evolution of great power relations before the First World War. He starts with the British decision to abandon 'splendid isolation' in 1900 and examines three crises -- the First Moroccan Crisis (1905-06), the Bosnia--Herzegovina Crisis (1908--09), and the Agadir Crisis (1911) -- leading up to the war. He determines that states with a reputation for being a reliable ally have an easier time finding other reliable allies, and have greater autonomy within their alliances, than do states with a reputation for unreliability. Further, a history of reliability carries long-term benefits, as states tend not to lose allies even when their reputation declines."
Author Gregory D. Miller, who teaches at Oklahoma State University, has taught courses in international relations and terrorism at the College of William & Mary and the University of Oklahoma and served as director of the Summer Workshop on Teaching about Terrorism.
Strong As Death Is Love -- The Song of Songs -- Ruth -- Esther -- Jonah -- Daniel, A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter, Norton '15, $27.95, 234 pages, ASIN #0393243044. Notes, unillustrated.
From the dust jacket:
"The Song of Songs; Ruth; Esther; Jonah; and Daniel offer readers a range of pleasures not usually associated with the Bible. As distant in time from the Five Books of Moses as Updike is from Shakespeare, these Late Biblical books are innovative, entertaining literary works. Women often stand center stage.
"The Song of Songs is a celebration of young love, frankly sensuous, with no reference to God or covenant. It offers some of the most beautiful love poems of the ancient world. The story of Queen Esther's shrewd triumph is also a secular entertaining, with clear traces of farce and sly sexual comedy. The character of Ruth embodies the virtues of loyalty, love, and charity in a harmonious world.
"Enigma replaces harmony in Daniel's feverish night dreams. The apocalyptic strangeness of Daniel echoes in works from the New Testament's Book of Revelations to the lyrics of Bob Dylan. And Jonah, the tale of a giant fish who, on God's command, swallows the prophet and imprisons him in his dark, wet innards for three days, ends with a question that lingers, unanswered, leaving the reader to ponder the many limitations of humankind."
Author Robert Alter has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation and the Koret Jewish Book Award for Translation. Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.