Many old and new friends have asked: what does one do after writing a biography of Abraham Lincoln? I am pleased to announce I have signed a contract with Random House to write a comprehensive biography of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant is our greatest Civil War General and the only President to be elected to two terms (1868-1876) between Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson. But he was so much more — as I intend to show in a biography that will treat the full life of Grant — youth, West Point, Mexican War, soldier, farmer, Civil War General, President, world traveler, and, as he was dying from cancer, the author of the greatest presidential memoir ever written — it has never been out of print. And Julia. Julia, so undervalued by biographers, married young Ulysses and, so devoted to each other, formed one of the most remarkable marriages in American political history.
2011-2015 will mark the commemoration of the Civil War. In March, 1864, Grant was summoned to Washington to meet Abraham Lincoln for the first time. Finally, after many false starts, Lincoln had found his general and offered him command of all the Union forces. The biography is scheduled to be published in 2014 — 150 years after Grant took command.
I am traveling this week to Ohio, where Grant was born and lived the first seventeen years of his life, to participate in "Grant Days" (April 24) in Georgetown, Ohio. I am coming at the invitation of Lisa Corum Fox, my former student at Whitworth College and Princeton Seminary. Lisa, who is an expert on the Underground Railroad and the churches, will offer a presentation during Grant Days.
I will speak on Sunday, April 25, at the West Union Presbyterian Church, the church Lisa serves, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the congregation.
For a complete list of my upcoming speaking events please click (here).
A. Lincoln will be honored with a Christopher Award in New York City on Thursday April 15. Below is the press release.
CHRISTOPHERS HONOR 13 AUTHORS & ILLUSTRATORS FOR BOOKS ABOUT LOVE, COURAGE & COMMUNICATION ACROSS CULTURES
Nine books for adults and young people will be celebrated at the 61st Christopher Awards Event
NEW YORK, April 7, 2010—The Christophers are set to honor nine winning books for adults and young people on April 15 at the 61st annual Christopher Awards celebration here. The Christopher Awards salute the creators of books, feature films and TV/cable programs that remind audiences of their power as individuals to make a difference. The winning books were selected from 695 titles published in 2009 — 317 for Adults, 378 for Young People — that were submitted and reviewed.
Books for Adults
Readers get to travel through time and history to explore cultural clashes and at times rapprochements in New York, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Illinois and East Africa in the four compelling Books for Adults that The Christophers tapped to take this year’s honors. The books trace the impact of people who ignore all odds and achieve extraordinary results.
• Ronald C. White, Jr., in A. Lincoln: A Biography (Random House), redefines this man of integrity, whose moral compass, posits White, holds the key to understanding Lincoln’s life.
• Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Viking/Penguin Group), begins where Greg Mortenson’s first book, Three Cups of Tea, left off. Discomfort and danger mean nothing to Mortenson, whose Central Asia Institute takes him to a Pakistan torn by natural disaster. There he rebuilds earthquake-proof schools, after which he returns to the heart of Taliban territory in Afghanistan to continue his courageous efforts to build schools—mostly for girls.
• Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder writes about Deo’s heroism in Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness (Random House). A refugee from Barundi, Deo arrives in New York with $200, ends up living in Central Park and, thanks to strangers’ help, attends Columbia University and medical school. Devoting his life to healing, Deo learns to transform anger into forgiveness.
• Anthony Flint writes a David and Goliath story in Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City (Random House). This story goes far beyond the Big Apple, reflecting the power of individuals to safeguard the essence of our communities and neighborhoods.
In addition to the books, Christopher Awards will also be presented to the creators of three feature films and five TV and cable programs.
The Christophers, a nonprofit organization founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. The ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio, leadership and awards programs.
The Christopher Awards, first presented in 1949, annually honor writers, producers, directors and illustrators in the publishing, film, TV and cable industries whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” More information about The Christophers is available at www.christophers.org
For more information, contact:
The Christopher Awards
(212) 759-4050, ext. 229
I'm delighted to announce that A. Lincoln: A Biography is now available as an audiobook. The book is read by Bill Weideman, a veteran theater actor who has narrated and directed for Brilliance Audio for the past 20 years. The audiobook is available in several formats. You can buy the audiobook on compact disc and MP3-CD by clicking (here). It is also available as an audiobook download for playback on your personal computer or portable listening device by clicking (here).
To learn more about A. Lincoln: A Biography, please click (here).
On March 3, in New York City, The Lincoln Group of New York granted me their 2009 Award of Achievement for "the best Abraham Lincoln book published in the Lincoln Bicentennial Year of 2009." After receiving the award, I was honored to address this distinguished Lincoln group. Please see their Press Release below.
I'm extremely gratified that A. Lincoln has been named one of the Best Books of 2009 by The History Book Club, Barnes & Noble, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and LeadershipNow.com.
For a complete list of upcoming speaking events, please click (here).
To learn more about A. Lincoln: A Biography, please click (here).
To purchase A. Lincoln: A Biography, please click (here).
On July 14, I had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed in Boston for a PBS documentary, "God in America," which will air in October, 2010. Sarah Colt, of Sarah Colt Productions, is directing hours 3 and 4 of this 6-hour documentary. "God in America" is being co-produced by the award-winning Frontline and American Experience. The documentary seeks to portray the often obscured or misunderstood role of religion in America. I have been invited to serve as the consultant for hour three.
My interview, based on my three books on Lincoln, focuses on Lincoln's understanding of religion in relation to the Civil War. As readers know, I have sought to emphasize not only Lincoln's public oratory—the Second Inaugural Address—but his private musing—the so-called Meditation on the Divine Will.
Sarah came to New York in May to hear my address to the New York Historical Society. We sat in her studio in Boston and talked on camera for three hours about Lincoln and religion. From this she will edit parts of the conversation for the documentary. She is a remarkable writer and director which gives high promise to the middle two hours of the documentary.
There is a sense of place!
This past weekend (July 11) I enjoyed visiting some of the places in Kentucky and Indiana associated with Abraham Lincoln's birth and early years. On Saturday morning Park Rangers Jenny Jones and Doug Richardson hosted me on a tour of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, the Sinking Spring farm where Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. The farm derives its name from the underground stream which emerges in a cave which became the family's source of water as well as a cool place to store certain foods.
Later in the morning Jenny and Doug drove me the nearly ten miles to the Knob Creek Farm where Thomas and Nancy Lincoln moved when Abraham was two. He would live there until he was seven. This land was acquired by the Park Service in 2001 and it was unchanged from the time that Lincoln remembered helping his father plant corn. Young Abraham, who would live at the Knob Creek Farm until he was seven, would plant pumpkin seeds between the rows of corn. To walk to the edge of Knob Creek, and out into the green fields where Lincoln romped with other young boys, not only gives one an emotional sense of place but asks the larger question: how could such greatness come from such a humble beginning?
Jenny Jones told me that of the nearly 200,000 visitors who come each year, easily a third are European who are fascinated by what Lincoln called "the right to rise" that is the American story. As we were about to leave, a family, with a Florida license plate on their car, pulled up. A young boy, probably about seven or eight, popped out of the back seat. As he did, his mother said to us, "he has been so anxious to get to this place."
In the next days I will say more about my visit to Mary Todd's family home in Lexington, Kentucky, and Farmington, the estate in Louisville, that was the home of Lincoln’s best friend, Joshua Speed. Lincoln visited Farmington in 1841. On Sunday, July 12, I had the great pleasure of delivering a lecture at Lincoln's Boyhood home (now a National Memorial) in southern Indiana.