Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Team of Rivals

I am reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: the political genius of Abraham Lincoln. (E457.45 .G66 2005 in the Olin Library, but it is checked out at the moment, not by me, I got mine from the Orange County Public Library with my shiny new library card.)

Before this semester started, I spent six days buried in the Association of Research Libraries archive in the Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress doing research for my dissertation. I had a wonderful and, I think, productive time. Now I just have to process it all.

When I am doing historical research I like to read history. It somehow gets me thinking along the right lines. I like to notice how the historian marshals her evidence and writes history. I particularly enjoy reading about Lincoln, the United State's greatest President (in this foreigner's humble opinion). The book was also meaningful since every night I ran on the Mall and would stop at the Lincoln Memorial in the dark, look up at the looming seated figure of Lincoln and read one of my favorite political speeches, the Gettysburg Address.

On a more personal level I was struck as I read the book by how much time so many of the married couples in that period spend apart. As the United States exploded westward in the decades before the civil war couples would often be separated for long periods. The curse of modern academe is not so new.

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