Read The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows by Gabor S. Boritt Online


The words Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg comprise perhaps the most famous speech in history. It has been quoted by popes, presidents, prime ministers, and revolutionaries around the world. From "Four score and seven years ago..." to "government of the people, by the people, for the people," Lincoln's words echo in tThe words Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg comprise perhaps the most famous speech in history. It has been quoted by popes, presidents, prime ministers, and revolutionaries around the world. From "Four score and seven years ago..." to "government of the people, by the people, for the people," Lincoln's words echo in the American conscience. Many books have been written about the Gettysburg Address and yet, as Lincoln scholar Gabor Boritt shows, there is much that we don't know about the speech. In "The Gettysburg Gospel" he reconstructs what really happened in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. Boritt tears away a century of myths, lies, and legends to give us a clear understanding of the greatest American's greatest speech.In the aftermath of the bloodiest battle ever fought in North America, the little town of Gettysburg was engulfed in the worst man-made disaster in U.S. history: close to 21,000 wounded; very few doctors; heroic women coping in houses, barns, and churches turned into hospitals; dead horses and mules rotting in farmyards and fields; and at least 7,000 dead soldiers who had to be dug up, identified, and reburied. This was where Lincoln had to come to explain why the horror of war must continue.Planning America's first national cemetery revitalized the traumatized people of Gettysburg, but the dedication ceremonies overwhelmed the town. Lincoln was not certain until the last moment whether he could come. But he knew the significance of the occasion and wrote his remarks with care -- the first speech since his inauguration that he prepared before delivering it. A careful analysis of the Addressand the public reaction to it form the center of this book. Boritt shows how Lincoln responded to the politics of the time and also clarifies which text he spoke from and how and when he wrote the various versions. Few people initially recognized the importance of the speech; it was frequently and, at times, hilariously misreported. But over the years the speech would grow into American scripture. It would acquire new and broader meanings. It would be better understood, but also misunderstood and misinterpreted to suit beliefs very different from Lincoln's."The Gettysburg Gospel" is based on years of scholarship as well as a deep understanding of Lincoln and of Gettysburg itself. It draws on vital documents essential to appreciating Lincoln's great speech and its evolution into American gospel. This is an indispensable book for anyone interested in the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, or American history....

Title : The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows
Author :
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ISBN : 9780743288200
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 415 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows Reviews

  • Gary Hoggatt
    2019-05-19 15:02

    I recently read Ronald C. White, Jr.'s excellent Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, and was motivated to read more about Abraham Lincoln's other great speeches. That brought me to Gabor Boritt's 2006 history The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows. While interesting, I was expecting something more like White's work, which focuses on analysis of the speech with some info on the lead-up and reaction to the speech. Instead, Boritt devotes his book to the period between the Battle of Gettysburg and the time Lincoln takes the stage at Gettysburg and the time he gets of the stage and people start reacting to the speech. Of the speech itself, you might conceivably miss it if you blink.To be fair to Boritt, I learned a lot about the Battle of Gettysburg and what happened at Gettysburg between the battle and the dedication of the national cemetery. This is interesting stuff, and does a good job of giving you a context of Lincoln's speech. Boritt is also thorough in his analysis of the Gettysburg Address in American culture and how it vied with the Emancipation Proclamation as the single message of the martyred president.Unfortunately, there's very little analysis of Lincoln's actual Gettysburg address. Much more time is spent on how and when he wrote it than why he wrote what he wrote. It just seems odd to that Boritt left this entire topic unexplored when devoting so much effort to every other facet of the Gettysburg story.Boritt actually spends a lot more time talking about the content of other Gettysburg speech that nobody knows, the main oration from Edward Everett. You get a fair amount how and why Everett wrote the speech he wrote, and an entire appendix is dedicated to presenting Everett's speech in full. I actually appreciate this part of the book, as - while I had known Lincoln's speech was really a short message delivered after Everett's - I had known little of Everett's speech myself. It's actually a pretty good speech, if not in a class with Lincoln's.I listened to Tantor Media's unabridged 2006 production of The Gettysburg Gospel, as read by Michael Kramer. The production was solid, and Kramer's steady and straightforward narration fit the historical nature of the book well. The production runs approximately 10 hours.Overall, I learned quite a bit about every part of the Gettysburg story except Lincoln's speech. While I appreciate that, I feel like Boritt missed the mark by, I can only assume, taking for granted everyone coming to The Gettysburg Gospel already had a detailed knowledge of the actual Gettysburg Address itself and that he didn't need to directly address that topic himself. While Boritt's book is a solid background on the story of the speech, don't expect to learn much about why Lincoln gave the speech he did.

  • ***Dave Hill
    2019-05-08 18:21

    (Original review: subtitled “The Lincoln Speech that Nobody Knows,” Boritt writes poetically about the entire Gettysburg event, starting the day after the battle and the long weeks of horror that was the small town of Gettysburg while the dead were buried and the survivors were tended with scant resources. From there he moves to the plans to build a national cemetery for the battle dead (Union, of course), and the events at the site’s opening. Amongst the dignitaries invited were Edward Everett, who gave a long and well-received oratory about the battle and the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln, the president, whose exceedingly short speech providing a justification for the battle and the suffering the war had engendered, got a mixed reception, and was, for years considered by Lincoln’s supporters and the public as far less significant than Lincoln’s role as emancipator (and writer of the Emancipation Proclamation). Only in the decades to follow, as emancipation became less of a public rallying point, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech recast as something to unite the country, rather than as a war speech, did the Gettysburg Address become recognized as the literary and historical icon it’s become. Fascinating book, well read by Michael Kramer, providing details both personal and broad. I ended up not knowing much more about the speech itself, but a lot more about why it was written, how it was received, and how its meaning — and the image of its author — has evolved in the century-and-a-half since Gettysburg. Recommended.

  • William Monaco
    2019-05-14 15:24

    A great companion to Lincoln at Gettysburg!

  • Frank Roberts
    2019-05-09 14:13

    Focuses on different aspects of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Gettysburg Address and its place in American history and culture. The first segment, most interesting to me, was the immediate post-battle perception that the public had of the battle, and the immediate post-battle conditions and challenges that the small town of Gettysburg faced, with tens of thousands of wounded to care for, and the casualties and detritus of war scattered over the countryside. Later segments examined the creation of the Address itself: when did Lincoln write it? Which is the definitive version? How was it received in the press and by the public? How long did it take to attain the status of American Scripture (much longer than you'd think)? What has it come to mean in American memory and political thought? Perhaps a third of the book is appendices.

  • Tom Schulte
    2019-05-07 22:04

    I like to read books before the movie, so I read this to prepare for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and get the correct role people like Will Johnson and Joshua Speed had to in Lincoln's life.:)Seriously, this is a great book about the cemetary consecration speech how it came to be (not on the back of envelope enroute in the train), what else went on that day, the battle and its repercurrsions (this also extensively covered in appendixes) and why the Emancipation Proclamation, as dry as it is, subsumed this concise bit of eloquence before buyer's remorse over racal integration caused the mythologizing populace to choose to see Lincol as wordsmith and not chain-breaker.

  • Robin Friedman
    2019-05-09 19:19

    With the passage of time, the Battle of Gettysburg of July 1 -- 3, 1863) and President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address of November 19, 1863, dedicating the Soldier's National Cemetery have become American icons. They help define for many people the basic values of our country. In his book "The Gettysburg Gospel: The Speech Nobody Knows" Professor Gabor Boritt offers a detailed account of the Gettysburg Address, including its background, reception, and meaning. As Boritt shows, the Gettysburg Address has become a statement for Americans of "who we are" as a people. His book illuminates the Gettysburg Address and, through it, he illuminates the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War itself. Boritt is Professor of Civil War studies and director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. He has written extensively on the Civil War.In the opening chapters of the book, Boritt emphasizes the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, including the great suffering of the many wounded soldiers left behind to be cared for after the Battle. He discusses the decision to set aside a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the Union dead and the invitation extended to Lincoln to speak at the dedication of the cemetery. The book includes substantial discussion of contested issues in prior studies of Lincoln's speech including the circumstances of the composition of the various drafts. In great detail, Boritt discusses Lincoln's train trip to Gettysburg, the celebrations in the town during the evening before the now famous dedication, and the mixed reception the speech received when it was delivered.But these discussions, interesting as they are, do not form the major theme of the book. Boritt shows how the historical record is confused and inconclusive, in many respects, about the speech and its reception. The full significance of the speech became appreciated only about 20 years later, after the end of Reconstruction. Boritt points out, insightfully, that Lincoln's address had the aim of furthering the Union war effort by justifying the need of the terrible sacrifice of life that had occurred already at Gettysburg and elsewhere and that would need to occur elsewhere to realize the war aims of the United States. Boritt also has valuable things to say in contrasting the reception of the Emancipation Proclamation with that of the Gettysburg Address. The Proclamation was regarded as Lincoln's achievement while the Reconstruction period was underway. With the end of Reconstruction, the Gettysburg Address claimed greater public attention, both due to its poetic eloquence and to the interpretation it was given by some, due to its stark, abstract character, in promoting sectional reconciliation and national unity rather than Reconstruction. Throughout the book, Boritt discusses well the relationship between Reconstruction and Reconciliation in the aftermath of the Civil War.Among the things I liked best about Boritt's book was the detailed attention it gives to the speech of Edward Everett, which discussed the history of the battle, the role women played after the battle in taking care of the wounded, and the need for sectional reconciliation following the conflict. (Everett's speech is given in full as an appendix to the book.) Boritt discusses as well American art and sculpture and about how Lincoln is depicted, both with respect to the Emancipation Proclamation and with respect to the Gettysburg Address. Boritt gives great attention to the religious aspect of the Address -- as it shows Lincoln moving towards a theism but not towards a denominational religion. (Lincoln's movement might reflect an important religious attitude in the United States as a whole.) He also discusses the role of the Gettysburg Address in what many scholars have referred to as America's Civil Religion -- its sense of itself and its purpose -- and American nationalism. Boritt also sees the Gettysburg Address as a precursor of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.The book includes an excellent annotated bibliography of the Battle of Gettysburg and of Lincoln's speech which will be useful to readers wanting to explore these matters further. The book beautifully combines close factual detail with meditations on the lasting meaning and significance of the Gettysburg Address. The book will be of great interest to readers wanting to think about and expand their understanding of Lincoln's great speech.Robin Friedman

  • Erik
    2019-05-14 19:29

    This book gives a good summary of what happened in the aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg and in the lead up to the cemetery dedication at which Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address. It was interesting to read about. The book also includes, as an appendix, the keynote speech at the dedication given by Edward Everett. It was actually quite a good speech that has some strong reasoning about why the there was such a strong desire in the North to prevent the break up of the union. The shows briefly the history of how Lincoln's address was not immediately received as a masterpiece, but it took the country several decades to really come to revere it as a great piece of oratory. I have heard it implied in the past that Edward Everett was a tedious windbag for speaking for two hours before Lincoln got up to speak. The truth is that he spoke for precisely as long as he was engaged to talk, and this was what the people who attended were expecting and wanted. Back in that day, people actually had the patience to sit and listen to well-reasoned arguments in long speeches, and that they enjoyed it. I guess they had to take what they could get with no TV, radio, or internet.The author of this book, Gabor Boritt, makes it very clear that the underlying issue of the civil war was slavery. I wholeheartedly agree with this and find it ridiculous when I hear people try to say that slavery was not the root cause.

  • Manny
    2019-04-28 16:14

    This book was painful to get through. The amount of worthless time consuming minutia regarding the speech was boring and not engaging at all. It is obvious in the book the Mr. Boritt is a strong Lincoln supporter. That bothered me throughout the book. The book portrays the South as a bunch of bandits and makes it more than obvious that the North really hated the South. The premise that the Civil War was fought because of slavery is really disturbing to me as if it were the case, why not invade free the slaves and then allow the South to remain in their "Confederate States of America". Why was the "Union" so important that the North did not allow them to remain separated?Getting back to the book, it was extremely boring and there is not much to say other than there were many accounts as to what Lincoln said, when he said it, and who was listening. The apotheosis of Lincoln is clear in this book and others from this period. The book is not an easy read and I had to force myself to finish it.

  • Kristy
    2019-04-24 15:08

    A very interesting read! The book starts by painting a picture of Gettysburg post-battle and destruction left in its wake. That is followed by a (largely chronological) look at the months leading up to the dedication of the cemetery. Although no one knows for sure what Lincoln was thinking, this book does an excellent job of putting the "Gettysburg Address" into hiostorical context. It seems to me that casual students of history often focus on the battle and/or the dedication, often skippping the time in between; this book fills that gap splendidly. I read this book following a trip to Gettysburg (excellent timing), and I learned a great deal. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Gettysburg, Lincoln, or the Civil War in general.

  • Gary Land
    2019-05-10 16:24

    I thought that Gabor Borritt's The Gettysburg Gospel was a terrific book, beautifully written and throwing new light on a seemingly familiar subject. The author reconstructs the background for the Gettysburg Cemetary consecration, beginning with the messy aftermath of the battle. He dispels the myths about Lincoln's address--it was not composed on the back of an envelope on the train going to Gettysburg--and gives attention to Edward Everett's speech, which was the main event of the day. Most significantly, he shows how Lincoln's address received relatively little attention at the time but about the turn of the century began to achieve prominence. I highly recommend this book.

  • Andrea
    2019-04-21 17:26

    Interesting book which focuses solely on the Gettysburg Address... how it came to be after the battle, the day it was delivered, the press and public reception, historical accounts, the growth of its legend, and incorporation into modern American art and culture. Boritt argues that the speech was met with mixed reviews on the day it was given, and only rose to prominence around the turn of the 20th century. Only about the first 200 pages or so are narrative. The rest of the book contains notes, analysis, supplemental documents, and of course a massive bibliography. Academics always win points with me!

  • Constantine
    2019-04-21 16:04

    The subtitle -- "the Lincoln speech nobody knows" -- promises more than it delivers. The book isn't really about the Gettysburg Address -- to an examination of which it devotes only one half of one chapter -- but about the context within which the Address was set, and the (remarkably slow) process by which it came to be our national Gospel. A wealth of fascinating detail, but if you're looking for a careful parsing of Lincoln's 272 words, Garry Wills is still the master. One unique contribution: a review of how the Address has been used and misused in the 145 years since its creation.

  • Emily
    2019-04-22 22:19

    Boritt's history covers the time span from the day after the Battle of Gettysburg to September 11, 2002, in historical you-are-there style. The first part is a description of how the man-made disaster of the battle was converted into a tremendous public spectacle of mourning and commemoration. The second part traces the rise of two conflicting interpretations of Lincoln's Address: emancipationist, and reconciliationist, and interrogates the treatment of Lincoln's words -- in speech, in writing, and in memory -- as a sacred text.

  • Al
    2019-04-21 15:16

    The author provides a great description of the chaos which existed in the town of Gettysburg in the weeks and months immediately following the battle....thousands of corpses, dead horses and the injured who remained hospitalized in houses and buildings in the town for an extended period of time. He also provides great detail regarding the genesis and writing of Lincoln's address as well as the two-hour speech by the featured speaker Edward Everett at the commemoration of the National Cemetery.

  • David
    2019-05-05 17:18

    While Boritt covers everything surrounding Gettysburg from the height of the grass, bodies and how they were buried, slave and free activities, and more, he leaves out an in-depth analysis of the speech itself (or any analysis for that matter), which for me is a gross slight. His attention to everything surrounding the Battle, day of the speech, weather, and details galore miss the fact that he leaves out what I would consider the gospel of Gettysburg, which is big mistake plus the description of everything else tends to get tedious and dry.Probably more of a 2.5.

  • Sam
    2019-05-14 20:24

    Everything you ever wanted to know about the Gettysburg Address. I have to give a shout out to my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Van Winkle, in Lyons, Co. for making me memorize all 272 words of it. I've been interested ever since.The entire historical, political, and social context around the address is quite thoroughly developed in the first half of the book and the second half speaks to the vacillating interpretations of the address in 1863 and how those interpretations have evolved to the present day. A must read for all you Lincoln admirers.

  • Rebecca Gomez
    2019-04-27 17:27

    This was the third of three books about Gettysburg that I read in preparation for my first trip to the battlefield. It's pretty much a summary of the research that has been done to this point about the address itself and how its legend has grown throughout the years. The most interesting part was a play by play reading of the lines of the address interspersed with the crowd reaction and the possible meanings behind each line. A bit dry but few historical books aren't and definitely too long for such a small subject but my eyes still teared up every time I read words from the address.

  • Sam Motes
    2019-05-08 20:22

    Gives the back story of the events leading up to Gettysburg, through the speech to the evolving impact over the years. It was barely recognized at the time but has become immortal words of the event molded by factions around the world to justify their causes ever since. The evidence of slightly different versions of the speech all penned by Lincoln as well as the various forgeries pro ported to be originals was interesting as well.

  • Kathy Brown
    2019-04-30 22:01

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Actually this is the book I was hoping to find when I started "Lincoln at Gettysburg" by Garry Wills; which was a good book, but very scholarly. "The Gettysburg Gospel" talks about what happened after the battle, how the people of Gettysburg coped and in detail about the dedication of the cemetery. It also explains how our national perception of Lincoln's words has changed and grown in the intervening years. Very well written, and highly recommended.

  • Brian Skinner
    2019-05-18 19:06

    This book is a very interesting way to find out exactly what the ceremony at Gettysburg was like. It shows the environment leading up to it the ceremony itself and the national reaction later. The speech was not initially regarded the way it is now. People were very critical of it. The latter half of the book is a rundown of reactions to the speech and that is where it loses steam. The first 1/3 of the book is probably worth 5 stars though.

  • Beth
    2019-05-03 18:27

    This was an interesting, although occasionally dull, exploration of the Gettysburg Address--the events leading up to it, the lore of when and how Lincoln wrote it, and the impact of it. Some reviewers have complained about the level of detail, but for the most part, I appreciated the detail as it set a better scene and created a better understanding of the topic. I would recommend this for Civil War and Lincoln buffs. I'm not sure the casual reader would appreciate the book.

  • Greg
    2019-04-30 14:11

    starts off as a very interesting book and eventually becomes a whole lot of minute information I could care less about. If I was a Lincoln buff i would probably love this. But about half way through the over abundance of detail broke my focus. For example, did you ever want to know that Lincoln changed the word "on" to "upon" ? well he goes over it in great length

  • Rick Howard
    2019-04-20 16:29

    Well-written; fascinating read on how the power of Lincoln's then little-known speech gained power and traction over time, and served to inspire us from the new cemetery at Gettysburg, to the World Trade Center Site; if you read no other book about Lincoln, read this one

  • William Frick
    2019-05-05 20:18

    Probably a better book than my rating indicates, but I didn't especially enjoy the writing, and I'm not especially interested in the topic. Mostly it was just on sale and I thought I should know more about the history.

  • Sande
    2019-05-03 16:05

    By the end of this book I felt that I had actually been there--during the writing, the train trip to Gettysburg, and the evening and day of the ceremony. Interesting to understand how interpretations of written words change over time.

  • Straw
    2019-04-23 18:26

    Gearing up for the trip in December. This was promising subject matter...the address given by Lincoln in November 1863; however, it was boring as hell. The story that should have been maybe 100 pages stretched out into blah.

  • Roger Henley
    2019-05-02 19:24

    This was an excellent book to read. I never knew there was so much information surrounding the Gettysburg Address. Before or even during the time and after time which the Gettysburg Address had occured. This was a history in the making. I recommend this book to anyone. Learned a lot from this book.

  • Dick
    2019-05-16 17:19

    Really good book from the stand point of research and revealing some myths that continue to come up about Lincoln's preparation for this speech. Lincoln never - ever did an off the cuff speech. And surely not on such an occasion as dedicating a cemetery at Gettysburg.

  • Tracey
    2019-05-15 19:08

    Oddly disjointed and repetitive. And the coda, tying everything in to 9/11, was a low blow that caught me off–guard; I didn't need to cry right then.

  • Katy
    2019-04-26 20:17

    I learned so much from reading this book. It makes me realize how little history I truly understand.