Stephen Bates

Monuments Man

Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History

By Richard Wightman Fox

W W Norton 416pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

While he was alive, no one ever commended Abraham Lincoln for his looks. He was tall and shambling, awkward and flat-footed: the rough rail-splitter from the West. ‘It would be hard work to find a great man in his face or figure,’ wrote the patrician Charles Wainwright, who saw him in Washington in 1862 and was actually on his side. ‘He is infinitely uglier than any of his pictures … he grinned like a great baboon. I was ashamed to think that such a gawk was president of the United States.’ The best Lincoln could manage to say about himself was that he was homely.

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