Civil War Talk Radio: December 8, 2006

by Brett Schulte on December 8, 2006 · 0 comments

Air Date: 120806
Subject: Herndon as a Source for Lincoln’s Early Life
Book: Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln & Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words
Guest: Douglas L. Wilson

Summary: In Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words, Dr. Douglas Wilson argues that for Abraham Lincoln, the pen really was mightier than the sword.

Brett’s Summary: Dr. Wilson is a Professor of Literature rather than History, so he freely admits he doesn’t know as much about the Civil War as some of his colleagues.

Much of this episode of Civil War Talk Radio focused on Wilson’s fight to get Herndon’s collection of reminiscences of Lincoln by those who knew him to be counted as valuable historical evidence.  Wilson, a student of the life of Thomas Jefferson before he moved on to Lincoln, came into Lincoln first by reading primary materials.  He did not realize at the time that Herndon’s documents had been dismissed by Lincoln scholars I the 1930s as untrustworthy.  Wilson argues, however, that the standards applied to Herndon’s papers were so rigorous as to make almost ALL sources fail.  He eventually edited Herndon’s papers, which were released as Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln.

The rest of the episode discusses Lincoln’s abilities as a truly great writer, going over some of the things he wrote and dismissing certain legends as apocryphal.

Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.

In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.

Check out more summaries of Civil War Talk Radio at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.

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