One of the most interesting gifts from Christmas this year was a small book, just over 100 pages, on Abraham Lincoln. The miniature, leather-bound book is part of a collection called The Nutshell Library written by Sherwin Cody. Cody was a curator, critic, and self-help writer way before there was a section in any local book store.
After sitting down and reading his curated excerpts on Lincoln, titled An Evening with Lincoln, an interest with Abraham Lincoln reignited. I’ve explored Lincoln’s persuasion and logic on here before, but what makes Cody’s book so interesting, besides the fact it can fit into your back pocket, is his opinion on each subject matter. For example, the book doesn’t start out on Lincoln, it starts out why everyone needs heroes:
“Every person should have a hero. If there is anyone who confesses they have none, do not trust them; they have no high ideals, they do not wish to be greater or better than they are now, and it is certain that they are in a fair way to become one of earth’s degenerates.
There is no nation that has ever attained greatness without its list of heroes…
…Washington was truly the Father of his Country, Franklin stands for American wit and American common sense, and Lincoln, born in poverty, brought up in a wilderness, full of ignorance, we worship as the savior of the Nation.”
He then goes on to why Lincoln is the Ideal American Hero with the summation being how Lincoln looked at everything so “honestly and with such healthy common sense.”
The book cogently weaves through a brief history of his life, preeminent speeches (including the first one he ever gave), key letters to generals and family, and finally anecdotes which includes short stories on how he handled the staggering pressure of being President.
A few more fun insights and links:
One of his favorite poems was Holmes “The Last Leaf,” which he recited often around the Executive Mansion. He read Shakespeare more than any other writers combined.
- Here is an autobiographical letter he wrote about himself on the request of Jesse Fell.
- Here is Lincoln’s Notes for a Law Lecture .
- Also his first and second inaugural address.
An Evening with Lincoln is nothing new from a history lesson stand point, but to have convenient, ready-to-read reminders about a leader who shaped our great country is a refreshing gift. There are 16 short booklets in The Nutshell Library. I received four of them including: An Evening with Longfellow and How to Read and What to Read.
Random thought: a good marketing tactic would be for marketing departments to take their most popular blog post(s) of the year and create a similar style booklet to send to their highly targeted accounts and best customers. It’s different and history has proven it works. (Cody sold over 150,000 copies).
Lastly, Cody’s small synopsis and classic takes remind all of us we should never get too old to have heroes. We should never stop seeking creative inspiration. We should always keep refreshing our dreams.