The Literary Preparation of a Great President

From The Washington Post:

Lincoln The literature about Abraham Lincoln is so vast as to defy comprehension, yet historians and other scholars — not to mention novelists, poets, artists, sculptors, even composers — continue to find new and revealing things to say about this greatest of all Americans. Fred Kaplan’s Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, is the latest case in point, a book that is certain to become essential to our understanding of the 16th president. To be sure, many others before Kaplan have dealt in various ways with Lincoln’s love of literature and writing, but no one has explored the subject so deeply or found so much meaning in it. Kaplan’s central subjects are Lincoln’s “compelling interest in language as the instrumental vehicle for civilization and culture” and his specific interest in written language, about which he once said:

Writing— the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye — is the great invention of the world. Great in the astonishing range of analysis and combination which necessarily underlies the most crude and general conception of it — great, very great in enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and of space; and great, not only in its direct benefits, but greatest help, to all other inventions. . . . Its utility may be conceived, by the reflection, that to it we owe everything which distinguishes us from savages. Take it from us, and the Bible, all history, all science, all government, all commerce, and nearly all social intercourse go with it.”

More here.