On the 155th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, I am pleased to share with you information on two forthcoming books.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
After the publication of American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant in October 2016, I began thinking about writing a third American biography.
In two audiences, persons literally shouted out their idea: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. After consulting my literary agent, and my editor and publisher, we all said: yes!
In recent years Chamberlain has become grouped with Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman as a hero of the Union victory in the Civil War. At age 33, a professor at Bowdoin College in Maine, in 1862 Chamberlain volunteered – against the wishes of both his wife and his college. On the second day at Gettysburg, holding the far left Union line at Little Round Top, when his men ran out of ammunition, he ordered “fix bayonets” and led a charge that routed the Confederate attackers.
Chamberlain was rediscovered in the historical novel Killer Angels, the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War, and the movie Gettysburg. Wounded at Petersburg – told by two surgeons he would die – Chamberlain survived the war to be elected Governor of Maine four times, and serve as President of Bowdoin College.
This summer I became a “Mainer,” spending four weeks in this beautiful state on the trail of Chamberlain. I am writing a comprehensive biography – college student, seminary student, husband, teacher, soldier, governor, president, memoirist – that Random House will publish in 2021.
Abraham Lincoln’s Diary
A second book grows out of lectures I have offered in recent years on Abraham Lincoln’s Diary. As the author of three books on Lincoln, I always wished he had kept a diary. Perhaps he did. He developed the habit of writing reflections and ruminations on little slips of paper. He saved these notes in the drawers of his desks, even in his top hat. Editors of the Lincoln Papers in 1905 and 1953 called them “fragments.” Never titled, dated, or signed, for the most part they have been overlooked. Like a private diary, Lincoln never expected anyone to ever see or read these notes to himself.
Now we can peer over Lincoln’s shoulder as he writes notes for a proposed lecture to lawyers, speaks of the birth of the Republican party, writes several notes on slavery, and asks himself about the role of God in the Civil War. I am bringing together the most tantalizing notes to self in a short book that will help us better understand the private Lincoln behind the public Lincoln. Random House will publish Abraham Lincoln’s Diary in 2020.
I am grateful for your friendship and interest.