Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three Books Thursday: #3 (and a rant about Abe Lincoln)

I finished my reading for the month of March early, which means that I get a one-day head start on April's. The first book I'm reading this coming month is Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Because of this (and because I had two other posts to write for today) I'm borrowing one of the Three Books lists from NPR. This list, to be exact. It's called "Three Books Explore Lincoln's Complex Genius" and it was given to NPR by historian Eric Foner.

I need to preface my reading of Grahame-Smith's book by saying something in the interest of full disclosure: I really hate Abraham Lincoln. I will admit that he was a great president, probably one of the greatest, and I believe that he deserves his memorial and his penny and his five dollar bill and every other accolade this country has thrown at him. He was an all-around awesome person. But I still hate him. And this is why:

I have a BA in History. It's the thing that I'm most interested in and, besides writing, it's one of the things that I'm best at. But, I dislike American history. A lot. My areas of interest are Ancient Greece and Czarist/Communist Russia. It's just what I like. At my college, however, the senior seminar class that you take is dictated by who is teaching it that year. Every three years it's a different professor and the semester that I took it it happened to be an American History professor.

This guy is amazing. He's funny and energetic and really great to talk to. If it weren't that he tortured me for a full semester with the Civil War, I would probably regret that I never took any other classes with him. Yet that is what the focus of this class was: the American Civil War on film.

Okay, so where does Abraham Lincoln come into this? That semester we had to read four books about Abraham Lincoln (including The Radical and the Republican, which is one of the books on Foner's list) as well as watch two films about him. By the time we got halfway through the semester, I was sick of Lincoln. But there was more torture coming. That was the year that President Obama was sworn into office. He had a real fetish for Abraham Lincoln and talked about him all the time. Don't get me wrong. I understand what Lincoln symbolizes so I can't blame the man for that. But then, then, the Treasury comes out with these:

Oh yeah, that's right. New Lincoln pennies. With little Lincolns on them. Like his face wasn't everywhere already, right? Why am I so bitter? Because not long after these pennies came out as I was reading one of the several books on Lincoln that I had to read for Senior Seminar, I decided to get a box of Cracker Jacks for fun. I hadn't had them in years, not since I was a kid. And they always had those little crappy prizes inside. You wanna know what I got? You wanna know what prize was in my box of Cracker Jacks that I was eating while reading a book on Abe Lincoln in a world full of Abe Lincoln? This:

I'm not even lying. I really wish I were. (By the way, I found this image on a site devoted to Cracker Jack prizes. Was anyone even aware that people really collected these? I mean, they can't be valuable, right?)

So that's the story of how I came to really hate Abraham Lincoln. Call me an awful person all you want to, but it was like he was haunting me that year. He was asking for it.


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