It’s a worthwhile experience to put down whatever you’re doing for half an hour today and read something about one of the world’s great men. It doesn’t matter which of the books about him you read. His wisdom and humor and particularly his compassion come through in all of them, even in the vignettes in Reader’s Digest.
I’ve been reading Mark Van Doren’s recently published play, “The Last Days of Lincoln,” which covers the last few weeks before his death.
The end of the war was imminent and the big issue was whether the terms of surrender should be harsh or generous. Some hotheads were for hanging the generals and destroying the South. Lincoln patiently tried to convey to them his feeling that such rash action would only add to the tragedy of a divided, stricken nation.
Feb. 12, 1959: Matt Weinstock closes the day with his usual light touch. And yes, the Civil War.
This column appeared in the L.A. Mirror in 1959 and was republished on latimes.com in 2009. It is available via Archive.org.