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Richard Carwardine is a professor emeritus at Oxford University, where he served as Rhodes Professor of American History from 2002 to 2009 and as president of Corpus Christi College from 2010 to 2016. His analytical biography Lincoln won the Lincoln Prize in 2004 and was subsequently published in the United States as Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power. His other work includes Transatlantic Revivalism: Popular Evangelicalism in Britain and America, 1790-1865; Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America; and (with Jay Sexton) The Global Lincoln.
"Ridiculed by political enemies and unappreciated by many allies, Lincoln's sense of humor and bountiful fund of funny stories get a fresh and trenchant analysis in this important study. Richard Carwardine shows how Lincoln's anecdotes not only served a therapeutic function to counter his melancholy but also helped him drive home important points of policy and strategy."--James McPherson, author of The War That Shaped a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters "Carwardine interprets Lincoln's propensity for the jocular, especially his use of self-effacing stories, as an essential part of his humanity, a means of dealing with life's ups and downs. Readers will welcome Carwardine's analysis of the richness of Lincoln's frivolity, which adds significance to our understanding of the man, the president, and the legend."--John David Smith, author of Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops "This is an important book. Richard Carwardine's study performs the impressive feat of adding new elements and dimensions to our understanding of Lincoln's fabled sense of humor and its significance in his career."--Douglas L. Wilson, author of Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words "Richard Carwardine does an excellent job of placing Lincoln's humor in the context of the 19th Century thought and usage. He forcefully argues that when Lincoln, the man, is romanticized and ennobled, much of the original and authentic richness of his humor and satire is lost. This volume is his attempt to understand Lincoln's use of anecdotes, jokes, and satire n the context in which they occurred. This book both succeeds and deserves a place on any Lincoln collector's bookshelf."--Wayne Wolf, professor emeritus, South Suburban College "Before you groan ("Not another Lincoln book!"), let me assure you that this compact volume by a leading Lincoln scholar is both illuminating and very funny, containing as it does many instances of our greatest president's humor, in many different registers, from coarse jests to the driest wit."--John Wilson, Christianity Today "Sorting through the complexities of Lincoln's humor is where Carwardine excels. One of the ways he does this is by showing how Lincoln's sense of humor evolved over time and relative to the case before a jury, the opportunity for political advancement, or the gravity of the nation's existential crisis."--Timothy D. Lusch, The University Bookman