by Nona N. Allen
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Honest; Emancipator; Greatest President.
These are a few of the terms often used to describe Abraham Lincoln; nowhere on this list is the word fascinating – until now.
Lately there has been a growing fascination with our 16th president and those fascinations range from the academic to the borderline absurd.
Recently, I attended the "Forensic Frolic," a Memphis City Schools Honor Camp program finale. A group of students led by Beth Rower, a middle school U.S. History teacher, staged a reenactment of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, with a twist. The students brought in modern crime fighters to solve the murder. The life and death of Abraham Lincoln is state-required information for students, said Rower.
That same week, I saw an actor on the "Today Show" promoting "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter," a movie by Tim Burton. This farce of a film portrays Lincoln as president by day and vampire hunter by night. (And yes, I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around this one.)
I am not sure what's driving this growing interest in Lincoln, but one effort stands out. Stephen Carter, author of "Jericho's Fall" and "The Emperor of Ocean Park," has penned one of the best works of historical fiction that I have ever read. "The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln" is a novel that supposes Lincoln survived the assassination attempt by John Wilkes Booth, but Vice-President Andrew Johnson did not. After Johnson dies, Congress brings impeachment charges against the president for overstepping his authority during the Civil War.
Several twists and turns lead readers to and through the impeachment hearings. Along the way, Abigail Canner, a young black woman hired to help with the president's case, is pulled in deeper than she ever intended.
A first glance, I was intimidated by the 512 pages, but as I began to read I couldn't put it down! I found myself anticipating the next moves of characters and trying to guess the villains. However, I must confess that I am a "nerd". I love history, especially presidential history. I watch shows on the History Channel and PBS about the presidents.
If the presidents are not your idea of fun, you will still like this novel. In fact, I would recommend it to the student (older, of course) who does not like history. It is a great way to enjoy a mysterious thriller and study history.
Take note: it is a novel, and there are some historical inaccuracies that should be fairly easy to spot for those with even a little bit of familiarity with U.S. history. Carter does an excellent job of taking a mundane historical event and infusing it with modern day excitement.
"The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln" – available this month from Random House – is being offered in audio and ebook formats. I give it 4 out of 5 bookmarks.