History comes to life at Lincoln Forum

While I love my job, I do still look forward to time off to travel and explore. However, often my vacations still connect in some way to education, books and, especially, history. A recent week was no exception.

For the past three years, I have had the privilege to travel to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to attend a symposium put on by the Lincoln Forum. Authors, scholars and history geeks gather in this hallowed place every year to discuss Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. It always takes place for three days proceeding Nov. 19, which is the anniversary of Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address.

I was thrilled that my first visit coincided with the 150th anniversary of his “few appropriate remarks.”

This year, the Lincoln Forum celebrated its 20th anniversary and did not disappoint with its caliber of historians, including Harold Holzer, author and editor of more than 50 books relating to Lincoln and the Civil War. His most recent book, “Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion,” can be found here in the library under call number 973.71 HOL.

The first evening, we were able to hear William C. “Jack” Davis talk about his most recent book, “Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee — the War They Fought, the Peace They Forged.” Jack Davis is one of the most wonderful historians to hear. He is funny, witty and so knowledgeable about his subjects. It is my desire to have him visit the library here to give a presentation as his son is a professor at IU in Bloomington. So far he seems amenable, but no date has been set. Be on the lookout for more to come. You can find the print copy of “Crucible of Command” in our new nonfiction section 973.7092 DAV. The eBook version is available through Overdrive. Audiobook fans can listen to the book via Hoopla.

Since this is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, the symposium also featured James L. Swanson, author of several books covering Lincoln’s death and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In Swanson’s presentation, he actually compared the two murders from a historical point of view. It was absolutely fascinating.

I know that many of you have read Swanson’s “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” (364.1524 SWA). His more recent book, “Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse” (973.77 SWA) is great as well. I also highly encourage you to listen to the audiobook versions of “Manhunt” and his book on JFK’s assassination, “End of Days” (973.922 SWA).

They are both narrated by Richard Thomas of “The Waltons” TV show. His voice, coupled with Swanson’s descriptive writing style, really helps put you in the moment of these two horrific events in American history.

If this sort of historical presentation interest you, many of the programs from the Lincoln Forum are filmed and presented on C-Span. Often, the network will repeat them throughout the year on C-Span 3, or you can view them online at c-span.org.

If you do watch, make sure to keep an eye out for me in the audience.

Jason Hatton is the director of the Bartholomew County Public Library. He can be reached at jhatton@barth.lib.in.us.