Picks and Pans Review: A New Birth of Freedom: Lincoln at Gettysburg

updated 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr.

Kunhardt, a former editor of LIFE magazine and grandson and son of noted collectors of Civil War and Lincoln photographs, has done some prodigious research to re-create Nov. 19, 1863, the day Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In this richly detailed book, Kunhardt relates that on the day of the speech, Lincoln's son Tad had a fever and that Mrs. Lincoln, notorious for her tantrums, didn't want the President to leave town. But he went anyway, revising his notes on the train, polishing phrases—unconsciously, perhaps, matching the rhythms of his simple prose to those of the Bible. The principal speaker that day was ex-U.S. Secretary of State Edward Everett, who spoke for about two hours. What he said has been almost forgotten. But nearly every American schoolchild has learned all or part of the 271-word speech that begins: "Four score and seven years ago..." This book brings history alive; among the marvelous old photographs are nearly a dozen Lincoln portraits. (Little, Brown, $22.50)

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