Here in England we don’t get taught much about the American presidents, but everyone knows of Abraham Lincoln. As the president who abolished slavery, fought the civil war and was assassinated in a theatre, his life clearly had purpose and meaning.
Which makes reading Noah Van Sciver’s biographical dramatisation of his early adulthood something of an eye-opener. Who would have thought that this assured, world-class politician might have battled through a period of debilitating depression and, on a number of occasions, come close to giving up completely and taking his own life? Or that he might have spent some of his time writing anonymous letters to local newspapers, putting down his political rivals, and coming within inches of fighting to the death over it when challenged to a duel?
It’s a surprising but fascinating insight into the psyche of a man that outsiders would normally assume to be a sort of political superhuman, but Sciver adds depth and soul to the two-dimensional image of the man with half a beard and a top hat.
While the art was occasionally disappointing (I found it hard, in places, to tell who was who in scenes that featured both Lincoln and Joshua Speed), it’s an intense and interesting read overall.