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Curator Reviews

Christopher Guest

A small but epic book. Wills masterfully analyzes the Gettysburg Address in terms of its oratory and historical context. Debunking the notion that the 272-word speech was spontaneous or at least quickly written, he reminds us of how fastidious it was. For Lincoln, a man who frequently quoted Shakespeare and was well read in many areas, this was an opportunity to say a great deal at a crucial time of the Civil War. His brevity — the actual Oration by Edward Everett was at least two hours long — was stunning at the time but clearly no accident. Required reading.

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