Lincoln Through The Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life by Martin W. Sandler - Book Review

As I read Lincoln Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life, I vacillated between personally loving the story of Lincoln and educator evaluating the book’s efforts. There is no doubt the story of Lincoln is engaging and now, between President Obama’s respect of the man and Lincoln’s looming 200th birthday, books seem to be springing forth like weeds. With limited funding, how do we tell the flowers from the weeds?

The slant Lincoln Through the Lens takes is that Abraham Lincoln was savvy enough to manipulate the media through the technology of his time: the photograph. For the most part, this premise is believable, but history is a speculative art and the extent of Lincoln’s vision can only be known through his accomplishments. The photographs are the stars of this book, but the text holds some interesting tidbits that are sure to please even those who think they know Lincoln. My Lincoln appreciating self really enjoyed Lincoln Through the Lens.

But my reading educator self is always present, especially when evaluating nonfiction text, and since my background is peppered with struggling readers, I am especially critical of texts lacking in support devices. While I read Lincoln Through the Lens I kept asking myself if it would be engage a secondary student and I’m not certain that I got a clear answer.

The text is nonlinear, but the purpose is to discuss the importance in the photographs, not the tale. The illustrations, coloring and font all seem to be carefully chosen, but textual clues in the form of graphs or charts might have enhanced the experience. Foremost, it’s always unfair to evaluate a book about Lincoln because no book will ever fill the shoes of the man’s own language.

For the most part, Lincoln Through the Lens is a good source for research reports and I suspect photography buffs would especially enjoy Lincoln Through the Lens.

Recommended for secondary libraries, but not necessarily classroom purchases.

Others reviews around the Kidlitosphere:
Lori Calabrese Writes
Carol's Corner
OMS Book Blog
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