Thursday, February 27, 2014

Abraham Lincoln's History by Hay and Nicolay in the News After having posted last week about the biography of  Abraham Lincoln by Lord Charnwood in response to a review in The Wall Street Journal, this week Abraham Lincoln is again in the news in a new book review in The Economist, Both the President's Men. The Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image by Joshua Zeitz

This review says the following:

"AMERICANS crave books about Abraham Lincoln. But finding fresh material on their 16th president is tough. So some writers are turning to his acolytes—the cabinet, the generals, the son. A new account, by Joshua Zeitz, focuses on Lincoln’s two secretaries, who had an insider’s view of a momentous presidency. John George Nicolay and John Hay shared a bedroom at the White House and served as Lincoln’s gatekeepers and letter-writers. The president called them “The Boys”. They called him, privately and devotedly, “The Tycoon” and “The Ancient”

The secretaries accompanied Lincoln from Illinois to Washington in 1861. Nicolay, born in Germany but mostly raised in America, was a former newspaperman who had once walked 35 miles to get a job. Hay was a Brown University graduate and would-be poet, aimless until he began working for Lincoln after the 1860 presidential campaign.............

“Lincoln’s Boys” is reinvigorated when Mr Zeitz returns to his core subject: the work Hay and Nicolay did with Lincoln’s legacy. Even while the civil war raged, they formed a plan to write their boss’s biography. After the assassination Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert, took control of thousands of administration papers. He gave the secretaries first crack (the papers would not be open to the public until 1947) and they promised Robert he could delete what he wished. Around 1874 Hay and Nicolay started their work. By 1890 they had produced a ten-volume biography......

(This) book proved fundamental to the shaping of Lincoln’s story. It came out at a time, Mr Zeitz writes, when Americans were conveniently forgetting that slavery had driven the Union apart. As for Lincoln himself, the public had been feeding eagerly on tabloidy reports of a past (and by this point long-deceased) love and a rocky marriage. Hay and Nicolay hammered hard on slavery, skimped on painful personal details and built a case for the wise and compassionate leader that Americans revere to this day.

“I believe he will fill a bigger place in history than he even dreams of himself,” Hay wrote to a friend in 1863. Thanks partly to his and Nicolay’s endeavours, he was to be proved right."

Cosimo offers this unique Hay's and Nicolay's 10-volume portrait in hardcover or paperback, especially of interest to Abraham Lincoln collectors, readers who like to expand their personal library or professional librarians.

The hardcover retail list price for the series is $449, but now:
our price: $359.99  (you save $90 - or a 20 percent discount - and free shipping)

The paperback retail list price: $279.99, but now: 
our price: $220.99 (you save $50  - or a 18 percent discount - and free shipping)

If you are interested in purchasing the full set, please contact us.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Series of the Month: A Library of the World's Best Literature

This month we like to highlight a unique series of world literature, A Library of the World’s Best Literature edited by Charles Dudley Warner.

Mark Twain was a pallbearer at his funeral, yet Charles Dudley Warner is a name largely forgotten by the literary world. An editor, journalist, and essayist, Warner was a Renaissance man who also worked at times as a lawyer, a farmer, and critic. He wrote nine travel books, published numerous essays on social and literary reform, and most famously co-wrote The Gilded Age with Twain. The co-written novel satirized the greed and political corruption present in post-Civil War America.

Many years later, while his friend Twain was traveling around the world for a lecture tour, Warner published a series known as A Library of the World’s Best Literature. With the help of an “Advisory Council” comprised mainly of professors and Deans of U.S. Universities, Warner collected and edited this 45-volume set of Classic and Modern world literature. This series would later include a comprehensive “literary dictionary”—a reference that provided the names and descriptions of authors referenced in the series, as well as suggestions of other enriching authors not included but still “representative of literary history.” As Warner stated in the Preface to this series, the collection’s goal was: 
“to encourage, stimulate, and assist the general reader, not only in the acquisition of knowledge and the widening of his mental horizon, but in the rational enjoyment of life.”
A Library of the World's Best Literature includes poetry, short stories, letters, and novel excerpts, with essays about the author or the subject of the text. There are also sections that discuss a series of works grouped by subject matter, era, or nationality. The collection lives up to its ‘worldy’ description, including everything from the work of his friend, Mark Twain, to Chronologies that detail the great authors of Polish, Swedish, German, and Swiss literature, to name a few. It’s a truly comprehensive series of World literature, covering centuries of great writing, and a helpful introduction to the breadth of literature available to interested readers.

Charles Dudley Warner was a literary figure in his own right, and it's a shame that his contributions are eclipsed by those of his friend. Today Twain is often credited with the famous quote "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," while it is argued that Warner himself coined the phrase. (For a compelling examination of the quote's origin, click here).

February being Black History Month, we also like to celebrate Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin (excerpts of which can be found in Vol.XXXV of this series). Arguably one of the most widely known and popularly read books about American slavery, it became the bestselling novel of the 19th century. With its first publication in 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and with it, Stowe, helped to ignite the social flames that led to Civil War less than a decade later.

Cosimo offers Warner's impressive series by individual volume at various online bookstores or as a full set in hardcover or paperback, especially of interest to collectors, readers who like to expand their personal library or professional librarians. If you are interested in purchasing the full set, please contact us.

The hardcover retail list price for the series is $1,609.54, but now:
our price: $1,289.99  (you save $320 or a 20 percent discount)

The paperback retail list price: $899.55, but now:
our price: $699.99 (you save $200 or a 22 percent discount)

Cosimo also offers Warner's In the Wilderness, Baddeck and That Sort of Thing, and On Horseback: A Tour in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Hans Brinker, the Dutch Olympic Skating Success & Misconceptions in the Media

Hans Brinker, The Silver Skates
The Dutch Olympic team is on its way to achieving one of its best Winter Olympics. Sofar, the Dutch have won seventeen medailles: five gold, five silver and seven bronze. What  is going on? The international media have started to notice.

The Wall Street Journal states in its article "In Sochi, the Dutch Are Dominating the Overall Olympic Medal Count":

" The Netherlands winning  the overall medal race.This is absurd. The Netherlands has about 15 million people. They are competitive in a single Winter Olympic sport. Sunday brought more domination, as the Dutch swept the podium in speedskating's women's 1,500 meters. The Netherlands had 17 medals at day's end on Sunday, one more than the U.S. and Russia; 16 of those 17 have come in long-track speedskating. (The other? Short-track speedskating.)...........

 The Dutch have chosen one of the few sports that a country of the Netherlands' size could dominate, since only about five nations are even competitive in speedskating. The U.S.—which was very competitive in speedskating until this year, when it became obsessed with its wardrobe—only has a couple thousand competitive skaters of any age. If the Winter Games are about being opportunistic, then the Dutch deserve the gold medal for opportunism. The Netherlands should enjoy this moment of Olympic supremacy, even if it doesn't last another 24 hours."

The International Business Times tries to explain the Dutch success in its article "Winter Olympics 2014: Speed Skating Continues To Be Dominated By The Netherlands, But Why?":

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

W.E.B. Du Bois and the Fight for Black Equality at the New York Historical Society

This February is a busy month with the Winter Olympics, world events continuing, President's Day and of course also celebrating Black History Month. If you happen to be in New York City tomorrow Wednesday, February 19, then join the conversation between two leading historians at New York Historical Society about the scholar and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois and his fight for black equality.

From  New York Historical Society's website:

"An accomplished scholar and outspoken activist, W.E.B. Du Bois fought racism and discrimination from local institutions to the highest levels of government. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Levering Lewis, in conversation with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, discusses the life and work of one of the most prominent civil rights activists of the early 20th century, from his role as a founding member of the NAACP to his vehement protests against the 1915 release of The Birth of a Nation, a film supported by President Woodrow Wilson that glorified the Ku Klux Klan."

The event starts at 6:30pm, 170 Central Park West at 77th Street 212-485-9268212-485-9268.

Click here for Cosimo's editions of W.E.B. Du Bois, including the following and also
the two Pulitzer winning biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois by David Levering Lewis:

The Best Book about Abraham Lincoln

In another example of the enduring value of classic books, Abraham Lincoln by Lord Charnwood published in 1916 just (!) received a review from essayist Joseph Epstein in The Wall Street Journal, calling this the best book about Abraham Lincoln.

Epstein writes:

"Born Godfrey Rathbone Benson (1864-1945), later a member of Parliament and an Oxford don, Lord Charnwood was something of an Americanophile, having also written a book on Theodore Roosevelt. He wrote his Lincoln biography in the middle of World War I, a time when the world seemed to be coming apart, as it had seemed to Americans during the Civil War some 60 years earlier. 

Lord Charnwood's Abraham Lincoln has a universal appeal, though it was originally written for an English audience. The English much admired Lincoln. True, at the time of the American Civil War, many aristocratic Englishmen sided with the South owing to the region's aristocratic pretensions, with Charles Darwin and Lord Tennyson being two notable exceptions. But workers in the English textile industry, feeling a kinship with the slaves of the South, sided with the North in the war, even though it was against their self-interest to do so. 

Lord Charnwood's main emphasis in Abraham Lincoln is on character analysis and political philosophy. His decision to place it there was a wise one, for it enlarges the biography's scope and lends it a Plutarchian gravity that helps give the book its standing as a masterpiece............"
Epstein continues:

"These words from the concluding paragraph of Lord Charnwood's masterly biography capture Abraham Lincoln better than any I know:

For he was a citizen of that far country where there is neither aristocrat nor democrat. No political theory stands out from his words or actions; but they show a most unusual sense of the possible dignity of common men and common things.… If he had a theory of democracy it was contained in this condensed note which he wrote, perhaps as an autograph, a year or two before his presidency: "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."

Great men and women do not always get the biographers they deserve. In Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln found his.", so Epstein ends his review.

For an older, but equally glowing review of this book, see Lord Charnwood's Lincoln by Frank M. Colby in 1916 in the liberal magazine The New Republic.

 Available from Cosimo Classics:

Twelve Years a Slave WIns Best Film Award at BAFTAs

Twelve Years a Slave keeps getting in the news in positive ways: last Sunday, the movie won the best film award at the Baftas, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, seen as an indicator for the upcoming Oscars.

During the same weekend, American writer Rachel Kushner interviewed in The New York Times said she finds Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup the best book she recently read. She says

"An incredible document, amazingly told and structured. Tough, but riveting. The movie of it by Steve McQueen might be the most successful adaptation of a book ever undertaken; text and film complement each other wildly."

It is quite amazing to see the power of Hollywood in revitalizing an old book, like this 1853 classic, of which so few people appreciated its value till now.
Hardcover Paperback

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Classic of the Month:Twelve Years a Slave

In honor of Black History Month, we are featuring an unique and influential work about slavery that has recently achieved renewed recognition because of the release of  major feature movie of the same name:Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.

In 1841, free-born African American Solomon Northup was offered a job in his hometown of Saratoga Springs, New York. He followed his employers to the job site at Washington, D.C., where he was beaten, drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, eventually ending up on a plantation in Louisiana owned by Edwin Epps. While there, in 1852, Northup befriended Canadian carpenter Samuel Bass, who was at the time doing work for Epps. Secretly, Bass was able to contact Northup's family, who informed New York governor Washington Hunt of his kidnapping. The state was able to use a law passed in 1840 that allowed the recovery of free black men who were sold into slavery to rescue Northup. Solomon was finally made free again on January 4, 1853. One of few slaves of his era ever to regain freedom, he devoted his time and energy to lecturing and educating others about abolitionism. Northup is without a doubt, a person worth celebrating.

Twelve Years a Slave was a bestseller in its time and remains one today. Northrup's work sold approximately 30,000 copies copies when it was first released, and has made the Top Ten of the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller list for 2013. A recent film adaptation by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt, has also earned the story the Golden Globe for Best Drama and nine Academy Award nominations including best picture, best actor in a leading and supporting role, best actress in a supporting role, and best director.

Cosimo is proud to have released both an affordable paperback and beautiful hardcover edition of Twelve Years a Slave at Barnes & Noble, as well as on Amazon (paperback and hardcover).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book of the Month: The African Unconscious

In honor of Black History Month, we are featuring an unique and influential work on the origins of humanity and especially its African roots:The African Unconscious, Roots of Ancient Mysticism and Modern Psychology by Edward Bruce Bynum.

The African Unconscious, originally published at the turn of the 20th century, is an Afro-centric look at human history based on archaeology, genetics, and the biospiritual roots of religion and science. Author Edward Bruce Bynum offers a captivating and controversial viewpoint on the roots of our human existence, positing that all humans at their deepest core are variations on the African template, creating a shared identity and collective unconscious in all.

Praise for The African Unconscious:

"I read with awe this passionate, brilliant, epic work. It is one of the most exhaustive and revealing studies of Black and human origins I have ever seen." -Lee S. Sannella, M.D., author of The Kundalini Experience

"The African Unconscious is indeed a daring work, and a unique contribution to African diasporic studies. It is a must for all students of human psychology." -Rowland O. Abiodun, author of Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought

"The scope of the author's knowledge is simply awesome, and that, coupled with his engaging writing style, makes not for an 'easy' ready, but an adventuresome one.... For those who entertain notions of collective unconscious and deep structure racial messages, I cannot think of a better text that navigates such thinking." -William E. Cross, Jr., Ph.D., author of Shades of Black

For more information about Bynum, his books, articles, and work, visit his website

To watch talks and lectures he has given at the University of Massachusetts (where he is a clinical psychologist and the director of behavioral medicine) and around the U.S., visit YouTube.

The African Unconscious is available in paperback online at  Barnes & Noble, Amazon and leading online bookstores around the world. To purchase our eBook at a discounted rate, please visit reKiosk.