Monday, October 30, 2017

Booknotes: Looking for Lincoln in Illinois

New Arrival:
Looking for Lincoln in Illinois: A Guide to Lincoln's Eighth Judicial Circuit
by Guy C. Fraker (SIU Press, 2017).

During good stretches of his long legal career, Abraham Lincoln famously traveled the Eighth Circuit in Illinois. Eighth Judicial Circuit historian Guy Fraker's Looking for Lincoln in Illinois "directs readers and travelers through the prairies to the towns Lincoln visited regularly. Twice a year, spring and fall, Lincoln’s work took him on a journey covering more than four hundred miles. As his stature as a lawyer grew, east central Illinois grew in population and influence, and the Circuit provided Lincoln with clients, friends, and associates who became part of the network that ultimately elevated him to the presidency."

The introduction "(p)rovides a brief history of the Circuit and an overview of its development, and summarizes the role of the Circuit in Lincoln's career." Monuments celebrating the Circuit dot the landscape that Lincoln traveled, and the introduction describes these as well.

The rest of the book is a tour guide of the entire Circuit route in four chapters. Presented within are detailed driving directions and brief historical introductions to various courthouses, legal offices, hotels, historic buildings, old roads, museums, and other "wayside exhibits" of all kinds (dozens in each chapter). The volume itself is of sturdy construction with thick, glossy pages that should hold up to repeated use in the field. The book's also full of period and modern photographs and other illustrations, along with road maps tracing the tour route from start to finish.

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