The winner of this week’s Gusher Award is:
“Brilliant: Unwritten law requires reviewers to use this word at least once about every Garry Wills book. How much truer this is of Lincoln at Gettysburg.”
Lexington Herald-Leader review of Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America (Simon & Schuster, 1992)
Gusher Awards typically go to reviews of more recent books than this Pulitzer Prize–winner, but the Herald-Leader’s unintentionally comic line was irresistible. And it suggests what’s wrong with literary hype: Many scholars and critics regard Wills’s study of the Gettysburg Address — the greatest speech in American political history — as one of the finest Civil War books of the past two decades. But this review goes so far over the top that many of us might tune out the praise.
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.