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Lincoln and the Jews


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About the Author

Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and is generally regarded as one of the most prominent historians of American Jewish history, religion, and life. Benjamin Shapell is the founder of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation. Shapell has initiated and overseen the creation of publications, exhibitions, and films relating to the central themes of the Foundation's collection of original manuscripts.


"Nothing brings history to life more vividly than handwritten letters, maps, and photographs. This book is a spectacular collection of primary documents that cast new light on is a treasure." --DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN"With a dazzling mastery of the subject, and a compelling style that transforms a scholarly book into a page-turner, Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell have provided nothing less than the definitive study of a long-neglected aspect of Civil War history and Lincoln biography. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this book is further elevated, and exponentially, by the prominence of hundreds of magnificent illustrations--many from the amazing Shapell archive, and quite a few of them new to this old hand at Lincoln relics and portraiture. The result is that happiest marriage of text and images: an instant classic." --HAROLD HOLZER, ROGER HERTOG FELLOW, NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY"This book is one of the most fascinating troves of American history and Jewish history I have ever seen. It is inexhaustibly interesting and deeply moving. Lincoln and the Jews portrays an essential chapter in the history of freedom." --SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN"Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell have produced a groundbreaking and enlightening book, an accessible source for scholars and general readers alike. This new study broadens our understanding of the American Jewish experience during the Civil War. Most illuminating, though, is the book's portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, the first president to truly interact with Jews and to welcome them into leading American circles. Lincoln and the Jews is an essential addition to any library on American Jewish and U.S. history." --MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES"Elegant, edifying and entertaining. Lincoln and the Jews is a gift for Lincoln enthusiasts." --DANIEL STASHOWER, AUTHOR OF THE HOUR OF PERI L: THE SECRET PLOT TO MURDER LINCOLN BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR"Even Lincoln experts are likely to learn something from this fascinating and comprehensive study of the president's relationship with American Jews, which is being published to coincide with a travelling exhibition of original documents. Sarna, a preeminent historian of American Jewry, and Shapell, the founder of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, make good use of what Shapell calls "the 'other' letters of U.S. presidents"--ones that don't present significant historical facts, but that limn the quotidian aspects of Lincoln's life, such as his recommendation of his Jewish chiropodist, Issachar Zacharie. The authors convincingly make the case that Lincoln's positive attitude toward Jews was strongly influenced by Abraham Jonas--a fellow Illinois politician, the only man Lincoln ever directly called "one of my most valued friends," and one of the first to suggest that he seek the Republican nomination for President in 1860. Jonas also warned his friend of a plot to assassinate him before his first inauguration. Images of the source material add depth and lend perspective; a page from a narrative describing Lincoln's death is stained with blood, probably the president's." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED)"A noted historian asks new questions about Abraham Lincoln... Drawing on archival sources and historical accounts, the author paints a well-delineated portrait of Lincoln as a friend and advocate of Jews before and during his political career. Heavily illustrated with images and manuscripts from the Library of Congress, many other collections and especially from the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, the book offers an enhanced perspective on Lincoln's moral and ethical decisions, as well as his personal friendships... Sarna and manuscript collector Shapell offer a vivid, fresh perspective on Lincoln's life and times." --KIRKUS REVIEWS"Lincoln and the Jews is filled with rare photographs and letters that tell the story of a man who himself defied the limitations of his time, and whose strength of character altered the nation's destiny." --Rabbi David Wolpe, Time"This book ensures that Lincoln's relations with American Jews, long a rather obscure aspect of his life and presidency despite all that's been written about him, will be much better known." --Pittsburgh Tribune"Lincoln and the Jews is a beautiful volume, packed with fascinating official documents, letters and photos collected by Shapell over many years." --Cleveland Plain Dealer

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