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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Young Abe Lincoln: His Teenage Years in Indiana by W. Fred Conway

While it does not feature any factual errors, you start to wonder...

...is this a book that you really had to be written?

I know that the top-rated, best-selling history authors depend a lot on writers like C. Fred Conway in order to get the more popular, wider-audience histories written. Why? Because Conway is a fan of Indiana history and he has done a lot of research that people like James McPherson would never have time to do simply out of a love for his local area. This is one of the 4 books he has written about Indiana, Kentucy and/or Ohio and life along the Ohio River. Conway knows his stuff but...
Boyhood of Lincoln by Eastman Johnson, 1868

Well, I am also a proud son of the Hoosier state and I found Young Abe Lincoln: His Teenage Years in Indiana to be more than a little pointless. The important facts could have been written in about 10 pages, maybe less. A little more than 5% of the book is the hopeful reminiscings of women that Lincoln may or may not have dated and their wishings that they could have married Lincoln (at the time they were interviewed he was the assassinated former President) if only they had really wanted to.

Out of 130 pages of text (Including Appendices showing Indiana state parks that have a Lincoln connection), I would estimate at least 40 pages of the text consists of pictures. Conway likes to include whole poems that Lincoln wrote about his boyhood in Indiana - page after page of poems. One whole page is filled with the creeds of the church that Lincoln attended but never joined. Trivia, not history.

So, I give this one 2 stars out of 5. Too many pictures and too much inane detail. I felt like someone had tried to pump up a large pamphlet into a book. It is not a one star rating because at least the facts he has presented are correct, which is saying something.

Do not buy unless you are a serious Lincoln collector.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: 
Young Abe Lincoln: His Teenage Years in Indiana by W. Fred Conway.

Reviewed on August 2, 2006.

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