Award-Winner Prof. David Reynolds on Abraham Lincoln & American Civil War Culture

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Reynolds, a Distinguished Professor of English and History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times, selected as one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Professor Reynolds shares what teachers and students alike should know about the culture of Civil War America, primary education in that era, and the wide variety of influences on Lincoln’s thinking and leadership. They delve into the most bitterly contentious political topics of Lincoln’s time, including slavery, states’ rights, trade tariffs, and women’s rights, and how the 16th president addressed the nation’s many political divisions. They also explore how Lincoln used his rustic image to shape his public persona and appeal to voters; and how he marshaled his rhetorical talent, invoking biblical language and the ideals of the American founding, to win the war, preserve the Union, and ultimately abolish slavery. Professor Reynolds concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the WeekWashington Post columnist Jay Mathews recognizes the work of Will Fitzhugh, founder of The Concord Review, to encourage students’ interest in historical fiction and reward long-form research and writing. A new project of the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities promises to restore the humanities in undergraduate education.


David Reynolds is a Distinguished Professor of English and History at the Ph.D. Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. He’s the author or editor of sixteen books, including Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times (2020), which was a noted book of the year by The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Prof. Reynolds is the winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Lincoln Prize, the Christian Gauss Award, the Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award, the Ambassador Book Award, the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, John Hope Franklin Prize (Honorable Mention), and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and The Wall Street Journal.

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There are 2 comments.

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  1. DaveSchmidt Coolidge

    Thought I’d give it a try. (To be candid, I was in the mood to procrastinate on a project.)  I thought it was excellent.  

    • #1
  2. WilliamWarford Coolidge

    Excellent discussion, both on writing in schools and on Lincoln. I retired last year as a teacher of 11th Grade English at an independent public charter school in Los Angeles County. I agree that it is shameful that so few students arrive at college prepared to write long research papers, and wish I could have done more to help my students prepare. One problem lies in testing. There is so much emphasis on state testing and AP testing, and, you guessed it, there is no long research paper on the state or AP exam. Thus, we work all year to prepare them to write the shorter essays they will need to write on their exams. Then, in the last couple of weeks, after the exams, we work on how to do a research paper. I would love the luxury of having all year to work with them on that.

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