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Lincoln's Men: The President and His Private Secretaries

de Daniel Mark Epstein

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1133230,049 (3.94)12
History. Nonfiction. HTML:

"An intimate portrait of Lincoln, so well-drawn that he seems to come alive on the page."
??Charleston Post & Courier

Lincoln's Men by Daniel Mark Epstein offers a fascinating close-up view of the Abraham Lincoln White House through the eyes of Lincoln's three personal secretaries: John Nicolay, William Stoddard, and John Hay. Like Doris Kearns Goodwin's monumental New York Times bestseller, Team of Rivals, Epstein's Lincoln's Men sheds a new light on the 16th U.S. president??his brilliance and vision in a time of national turmoil and Civil War??by focusing on his relationships with the men who worked closely by his side. USA Today writes, "This is not your typical work of history. Epstein, a poet, employs a dreamy, novelistic tone in describing these young men and their tormented bo… (mais)

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This is a very interesting history of the Lincoln White House as experienced through the three men who served as Lincoln's private secretaries. Two of these men in particular, John Hay and John Nicolay, had Lincoln's full trust and friendship, so the picture we get, as seen through the men's letters and diaries, are of the politics of the administration, and very much also of Lincoln, the man. It tells more than a little about the disruptive influence that Lincoln's wife Mary had on the administration at times. The book is well written and provides a relatively quick and entirely enjoyable reading experience. ( )
  rocketjk | Jan 2, 2015 |
The book Lincoln's Men: The President and His Private Secretaries by the author Daniel Mark Epstein is one that takes a closer look at a few gentlemen that were closer to Abraham Lincoln during his time in the White House than maybe anyone else including Mrs. Lincoln.
John G. Nicolay, John Hay, and a sometimes present William Stoddard were the White House secretaries for President Lincoln. Secretaries may not even be the right word for the jobs they were required to do. As Mr. Epstein writes about their duties it becomes clear that the normal secretarial duties were not going to be all they would be asked to perform.
Using the private diaries and personal correspondences as a source for material, Epstein describes some of what the daily life was like for this small band of brothers, their jobs could have been: opening and responding to mail; being Lincoln’s soundboard for stories, speeches and jokes; his eyes and ears; personal messengers; working with Mrs. Lincoln; or controlling the unruly crowds that were waiting to have an audience with the president. The author does a good job placing the reader in snapshots of some of the busiest times experienced in the offices and daily lives of Nicolay, Hay, and Stoddard, and gives their story from the time they first met the future president to the times of their death. This was very readable; it is quick and not very academic in nature.
Did I like it? Yes and no. I liked it because it looks and the Lincoln saga from a different perspective; that of his secretaries. It is an angle that I have not approached the topic from before and gave me a very different outlook on the President as well as these three men that served him so faithfully until they me their own ends. As well as what was mentioned above: the readability of it and the ability to be placed in the thick of the action at times.
What I didn’t like about it was the fact that though he used or referenced diaries and other primary source materials for this work he doesn’t end note or footnote anything and his notes section at the end of the book are a grand total of 2 1/2 pages for eleven chapters worth of material! Also, the author makes quite a few assumptions on how and what Hay, Nicolay and Stoddard are feeling about someone or something at given times in the story. I do not think authors should assume to know the thoughts and feelings of people even though they have primary sources available to them. We as humans have a hard enough time knowing what we are feeling at a given moment, I don’t see how authors can objectively (and correctly) inject the correct thought and feeling into the person’s head. Claims need to be backed up with facts. To me anything else is not a work of history, but conjecture. To project thoughts into people of history can be very misleading and damaging to the person or persons it is being thrust upon, and is leaning close to the realm of Fiction. Also, he told you that these men had a exceptionally close relationship with the president, and gave a few examples of trust between them. I thought this was a topic the author could have fleshed out a little more. I would have like more of the ‘why’ and less of the ‘how’ it happened.
When I ordered this title, I was expecting something a little more academic; I was incorrect in my assumption. I also assumed it would be a little more in depth in the life and work about the primary characters of the story. Instead it is more of an introduction to them, akin to an appetizer prior to the main course. This would be a great start to a study of one or all of the secretaries.
Would I recommend it: no. Not unless you can get it at a discounted rate. It s not a bad book at all, don’t get me wrong. But I think that in this case the negatives outweigh the positives. ( )
  Schneider | Jun 23, 2009 |
In 1861, Nicholas Hay, John Nicolay and William Stoddard took positions working with one of the most beloved and influential men this country has ever known. Their tenure with him was during one of the most tumultuous and sad times in our nation’s history. At that time it was just what they wanted to do – work with Abraham Lincoln.
They were with him during happy times and sad. They saw him grieve for lost friends and a son. They aided him through that Civil War. They had little time for themselves but managed to find some anyway – as only those in their twenties can.
They wanted to be a part of the war effort, but found that being at their desks working for Lincoln was the best way they could serve.
None were with Lincoln when he was shot and only Hay was in Washington. Stoddard was in Arkansas and Nicolay on a cruise to Cuba. But they all grieved mightily at the loss of their hero.
So much takes place in this book that you forget that only four years actually pass from when Lincoln took office until his assassination. The war itself is just a backdrop; something that is happening in the background. It comes to the fore once in a while but this book is about these three men.
They all go on to make names for themselves, each writing a book about Lincoln; Hays and Nicolay writing a ten volume biography together. ( )
  koalamom | Jan 11, 2009 |
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History. Nonfiction. HTML:

"An intimate portrait of Lincoln, so well-drawn that he seems to come alive on the page."
??Charleston Post & Courier

Lincoln's Men by Daniel Mark Epstein offers a fascinating close-up view of the Abraham Lincoln White House through the eyes of Lincoln's three personal secretaries: John Nicolay, William Stoddard, and John Hay. Like Doris Kearns Goodwin's monumental New York Times bestseller, Team of Rivals, Epstein's Lincoln's Men sheds a new light on the 16th U.S. president??his brilliance and vision in a time of national turmoil and Civil War??by focusing on his relationships with the men who worked closely by his side. USA Today writes, "This is not your typical work of history. Epstein, a poet, employs a dreamy, novelistic tone in describing these young men and their tormented bo

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