Willie Lincoln was only 11 when he died in February 1862 of typhoid fever. The Lincolns' third son was said to be their favorite, and after Willie was interred in a borrowed mausoleum in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, his father, Abraham Lincoln, returned to that cemetery several times. Newspapers reported that the president visited the crypt to open his son's coffin and hold his body. It's that image, of Lincoln cradling the corpse of his beloved son in a PietÃ pose, that inspires George Saunders' first novel, called Lincoln in the Bardo.
In a new book, Civil War historian Bruce Levine says that from the destruction of the South emerged an entirely new country, making the Civil War equivalent to a second American Revolution. Integral to the Union's victory, he says, were the nearly 200,000 black soldiers who enlisted.
Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay for the film Lincoln, which focuses on the 16th president's tumultuous final months in office. Kushner read more than 20 books before writing about Lincoln, a man who had "an enormous capacity for grief that didn't deprive him of the ability to act."
In The Long Road to Antietam, historian Richard Slotkin traces how both Northern and Southern strategies changed in the summer of 1862, when both sides committed to an all-out total war, and Lincoln squared off against Gen. George McClellan.
Robert Redford's historical drama focuses on the months after President Lincoln was assassinated — and on Mary Surratt, the woman alleged to have aided the plotters. Critic David Edelstein says it's a dramatized civil-liberties lecture, both transparent and exaggerated.
Abraham Lincoln always thought slavery was unjust — but struggled with what to do once slavery ended. Historian Eric Foner traces how Lincoln's thoughts about slavery — and freed slaves — mirrored America's own transformation in The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.
Eric Foner, author of Our Lincoln, talks about the era following the Civil War in which former slaves were promised equal rights and citizenship. Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University.
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's new book is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Goodwin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her previous book, No Ordinary Time, recounts the life and work of our 16th president, as well as the work of the principal characters of his administration.
Jay Winik's new book, a bestseller, is April 1865: The Month That Saved America (HarperCollins). He writes that April 1865 is a month that could have unraveled the American nation. Instead it saved it. During that month the war ended with Lee surrender, Lincoln was assassinated, and the rebuilding of the nation began. Winik is a senior scholar at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal.
Critic Maureen Corrigan compares the speeches of Abraham Lincoln and George Bush by way of two new books: "Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America," by Garry Wills, and "Bushisms: President G.H.W. Bush in his own Words," compiled by the editors of the "New Republic."